ON/OFF Design Competition: The MOBILE CO.MPOSTER
Can composting engage the public realm? How is it relevant today? Composting has long been the interest of farmers, environmentalists, and scientists, but more notably it was an act of everyday life. Industrialization, concerns of public health and rapid urban development transformed the relationship with food waste from personal engagement to large scale productions. There is need to reengage composting as a public event and to bring agency to the food waste process.
The need to bring renewal and curiosity centers around a duty to make more visible and tangible the ecological cycle of waste. Transitioning cities like Providence, Rhode Island and depressed neighborhoods like the Tenderloin District in San Francisco offer opportunities to rethink the nature of cities as they adapt to social, environmental, and economic changes. Our proposal is an ecological machine that interactively consumes our food waste and generates beneficial relationships with beings around it. The following are some highlights:
Composter / Biodigester - According to the NRDC, landfills are responsible for 23% of U.S. methane emissions with the majority of the emissions from decomposing organic material, and consumers are responsible for over 60% of food waste in urban areas. Composting is simply a human facilitated process of decomposition. An anaerobic composting process allows fats, oils, greases and food waste to break down and be converted into biogas and inorganic fertilizer. An anaerobic digester is a relatively passive process that generates a consistent by-product of heat.
First Imposter, Second Responder - Covertly, sensors on the machine coordinate and learn movements - like self driving vehicles. Autonomous, yet learning patterns in public spaces and behavior, responding accordingly. Too much litter? Homeless enjoying edibles at a particular park? Need for wildlife shelters?
Edible Habitats - Linking food productions through community gardens, green roofs and park spaces mobilizes nourishment and habitation beyond traditional urban infrastructures. The vegetation is enjoyed by both human and non-human species - nurturing office workers, invertebrates, the displaced, pollinators, etc.
Changing Climates - Heat is an elemental byproduct of the living. Instead of the sun, here the body(digester) generates microclimate-change by warming the surrounding temperature - extending the planting season and instigates/propagates growth. The heat provides warmth for the living on cold city nights.
Ox-machina - This beast presents a muscular and pronounced existence, but moves slowly. It is a domesticated, agrarian animal with potential to relate to fellow beings. Its yoke/hitch can link itself to other modes of transportation. Food trucks tow the digester behind to consume its refuse. It is warm to the touch, a heater, a companion, it consumes, it produces useful/immediate ready to use waste… It’s off the grid, fancy people move out of its way!
Leonard Yui, Assistant Professor Architecture at Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI: Project lead, digital graphics, text, and refinement of concept. Sahoko Yui: conceptual idea and programming, graphic diagrams sketches, and text.