atlas of waste
relations, scripting, waste-to-energy, global south, urban waste
The paradox surrounding waste is that it is both scalar and scale-less, transcending its own definition by shape-shifting its way through the scalar temporal contexts of our existence. Waste flows into us, through us and by us - a relational measure of truth, a physical cultural biproduct that exposes the societal decisions made across time and context.
Most often, waste is seen as something removed from the public when framed from the global North. Within South Africa, people’s connection to waste is very different as waste flows from areas of affluence to informal urban communities that end up living within waste, on waste and from waste. Learning from these communities can provide lessons in which we could envision living with waste as well as learning from the ways in which matter is given new agency. This dualism is where the project embarks toward a journey of re-scripting the relations between us and our lived experience of waste.
Tracing Durban’s waste flows through the society that created it, the project uncovers a fracture in the current urban waste metabolism. Waste is transported from city to landfill via garbage trucks and returns to the city via river networks, overwhelming downstream informal communities.
The project proposes a curated mutual interbreeding of a centrally located Waste to Energy plant bred with an urban housing scheme that stands to acknowledge the injustices of systemic western planning and capitalist growth, by providing relief to at risk communities – Quarry road Informal settlement- through redirecting waste flows from areas of affluence to the Waste to Energy plant.
The architectural project devises a set of relationally designed interventions at the scale of the city, neighborhood and site- rescripting the urban narrative of waste.