(Re) planned Obsolescence… Rethinking the Architecture of Waste

Despite the recent emergence of a number of novel industrial buildings, the role of the designer, and specifically the Architect, has been largely absent from this field of design inquiry. This can, in part, be due to the perception of the absence of clearly-defined roles for architecture to play in the formulation of these complex and predominantly technical, buildings. The rare engagement by the design field with the technical and economic constraints as well as ecological challenges surrounding these building types can be explained by a general perception of a lack of scope for design innovation.

While, the concentration of industrialization, together with all its accompanying problems, is currently associated with the developing world, this research deliberately focuses on the Swedish and American context, where new-build industrial building projects can be assumed to be experiencing a correspondingly dramatic decrease due to the shift towards post-industrial economies in these countries. However, as the result of another big shift in places like Sweden, towards clean energy practices (such as waste to energy), there is a projection for a future intensification in the construction of industrial buildings within existing or future urban contexts to facilitate this. The studio will be invested in addressing how these often very large, blank buildings may be integrated both physically and programmatically within their urban or suburban contexts and how the generally negative perception of industrial buildings may be strategically challenged by design.

As a result of this projected need for integration within existing neighborhoods and environments, the students will be expected to produce design solutions invested in developing hybrid WtE facility types that adopt a new role for these buildings of communicating or connecting with the wider public. There will also be a focus on exploring the possibility of weaving new public or institutional programs with the energy production chain that could be mutually beneficial for the operational practices of these facilities and the wider public constituencies and stakeholders. New typologies and design concepts developed in the studio will offer hybrid WTE building solutions that generate clean energy, contribute to the city’s social and cultural activities, and integrate proven technology solutions with novel approaches towards the organization and design at the building, landscape, neighborhood and/or material scales. The wider aim is for the development of models that utilize this impending design concern as an opportunity to explore and speculate on novel forms of public artifacts and spaces

The studio will engage with four sites in Sweden and the U.S., two countries with differing stages of engagement with wte technologies. More specifically the sites will be located in Bridgeport (CT), Prestton (CT), MälarenergiVästerås (Sweden) and Högdalen (Sweden).

This option studio is part of a three-year sponsored research project at the GSD and it includes a week-long fieldtrip to Sweden and an additional day trip to visit WTE facilities in the US.