THE ARCHITECTURE OF WASTE
An investigation into the potential of waste —seen as a renewable resource, to shape future built environments and their inhabitants’ behaviours by juxtaposing architectural theory with practice.
My interest in the relationship between architecture and energy production was sparked by research conducted during a course, Architectural Design: Explorations, where I came across the Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Design Lab of Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). This enabled me to articulate the relationship between architecture and energy through energy recovery from waste. The link between architecture and waste expands into sociology, economy, politics, urbanism, engineering and geography, given architecture’s interdisciplinary nature that allows these fields to interact with one another.Scarcity of land, increasing pollution levels and the problem of waste reaching geographical scales are pressing issues, leading waste management practices to be diverted from landfills to WTE. As the current technology is providing the means for minimal environmental impact, combined with high levels of energy production, its implementation is becoming more wide spread. WTE facilities’ categorisation of industrial building typology lead my research to focus on how the industrial building typology could potentially be redefined and reconfigured through WTE?
The results unveil that, firstly, WTE is an emerging architectural typology, bearing the potential to redefine the wider industrial building typology. Secondly, WTE infrastructure, through architecture and design could be reestablished as an urban device, and has the potential to become a symbiotic closed-loop system in urban environments. Lastly, there isn’t a significant gap between theory and practice but more of a gap within practice, calling upon architects to re-engage with the industrial building type. The current trajectory shows that a holistic design proposal synthesising all the key issues discussed in this paper will soon to emerge.