EXCRETAL ARCHITECTURE FEB 22 3

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EXCRETAL
ARCHIVES
MASSACHUSETTS INSTf(JTE
ARCHITECTURE
FEB 22 3
LIBRAIESc
Prototypical and Productive Urban Waste Forms
by Nancy Kim
Bachelors of Fine Arts in Architectural Design
Parsons The New School for Design, 2006
Submitted to the Department of Architecture
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 2013
@ 2013 Nancy H.
The author hereby
distribute publicly
in while or in part
Kim. All rights reserved.
grants to MIT permission to reproduce and to
paper and electronic copies of this thesis document
in any medium now known or hereafter created.
7-N
Author Signature ..............................................
\---
C e rtified By ..................................................................................
A ccepted By ....................................................
A
V
Nancy Kim
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
January 17, 2013
.......................
Joel Lamere
Assistant Professor of Architecture
Thesis Supervisor
........ ,--
.
......................
..........
7
V Takehiko Nagakura
Associate Professor of Design and Computation
Chair of the Department Committee on Graduate Students
Thesis Committee
Advisor:
Joel Lamere
Assistant Profressor of Architecture
Readers:
Azra Aksamija
Assistant Professor of Art, Culture and Technology
Alan Berger
Associate Professor of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture
2
EXCRETAL
ARCHITECTURE
Prototypical and Productive Urban Waste Forms
by Nancy Kim
Submitted to the Department of Architecture on January 17, 2013 in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture
Abstract
Excretal Architecture comes equipped with a set of design parameters sufficient to grow a
regenerative city, while focusing on biomass accumulation as a key program. These structures
are scalable and adaptable to any site, but are designed for cities that face ramifications
of the industrial eras in particular - mainly toxic contamination in water and soil. The
main purpose of these forms is to produce resources from waste through remediation and
biodegradation process with the initial premise that soil and water are two of earth's most
valuable resources, which provide basic needs for humans. These structures have specific dry
and wet program that incorporate low energy strategies by emulating natural cycles found
in forests and in permacultural farming practices. Human excreta is collected, composted and
used to form material for new ground. Water is collected, filtered, and deposited into its
landscape as irrigation after usage using a greywater system. The city becomes regenerative
through these biomass accumulation processes maintained by the architecture itself and
participating inhabitants or visitors.
Thesis Supervisor: Joel Lamere
Title: Assistant Profressor of Architecture
3
4
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements
Foreword
Post Post-Industrial Conditions Precedents
Precedents
Formal Studies
Site Adaptability and Scalability
Design
Appendix
Bibliography
7
10
12
22
30
46
54
100
106
5
9
Acknowledgements
Thank you to Joel Lamere, Azra Aksamija and Alan Berger for all your guidance throughout
this short, but profound journey.
This thesis would not be whole without the time, effort and spirit put forth by Karina Silvester,
Toshiro lhara, Chris Mackey, Rena Yang, Daniela Covarrubias, Moe Amaya, Tyler Stevermer,
WenFei Xu, John Maher, Breanna Faye, and Edrie Ortega, everyone at CRON and Cynthia
Stewart.
To my parents and big sister for instilling values in me, being my firm foundation and
reminding me to always be grateful and positive.
This is only the beginning!
7
8
EXCRETAL
ARCH ITECTU RE
Prototypical and Productive Urban Waste Forms
10
Foreword
This thesis intends to ignite interest in integrating urban ecology into buildings and
infrastructure. Specifically, urban areas that have experienced industrial contamination over
several industrial periods. This is partially based on my observations of an increasing number
architectural and infrastructural failure in cities, but also a look forward into the future of the
ways that buildings could better respond to changing patterns of growing populations and
unpredictable environmental changes.
This thesis experiments with architecture for it to be the catalyst to reducing the amount of
waste produced in cities. It introduces a way of experiencing urbanity through a zero waste
mentality, starting with making human waste a resource.
Waste is addressed at two scales: locally and domestically at the scale of your typical toilet
and at the city-scale.
It questions the relevance of current sanitation/sewer systems. It imagines a city made up of
composting toilets, recycled excreta and closed loop water filtration systems.
In Exreta (the prototypical city) a visitor or resident interfaces directly with their waste and
participates in their waste becoming a resource. The very process becomes a part of the
everyday.
11
Post Post-Industrial
Conditions or The Present
Moment
We manufacture products and experiences, we produce waste and forget about it. For
hundreds of years, we've been focused on increasing economies through mass production and
the export of goods. We prevailed in the economic sense for many years, but our capital
hungry consciousness has brought us a plethora of toxic grounds.
The air, water and land surrounding us has been contaminated with industrial, human and
domestic waste. An increasing change in extreme weather conditions is shedding light on the
limits of infrastructure in our cities. Recent storm surges have made city dwellers more aware
of the vulnerability of coastal habitation. They've also showed us how easily our sewers get
overflown and spread human and industrial waste into surrounding bodies of water.
We are at a point where conventional methods of manufacturing are being challenged.
Movers and shakers in city centers are developing faster and even more efficient ways of
making - this time with the increasing number of fabrication labs. In turn, this is leaving old
manufacturing towns abandoned - with all contaminated micro-climates in air, water and soil.
Somehow the message didn't make its way from our precursors. Even after the devastating
health concerns that resulted from the aftermath of industrial processes in the first industrial
town in the world, Manchester. The conditions were harsh enough that Friedrich Engels' twoyear stay at a paper mill company in 1 842 provided enough material to produce his first
book: The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. Some of his excerpts include
observations of horrid conditions.
"In one of these courts there stands directly at the entrance, at the end
of the covered passage, a privy without a door, so dirty that the in
habitants can pass into and out of the court only by passing through
foul pools of stagnant urine and excrement.. .At the bottom flow or
rather stagnates, the Irk, a narrow, coal-black, foul-smelling stream,
12
full of debris and refuse, which deposits on the shallower right bank..
Above the bridge are tanneries, bone mills, and gasworks, from which
all drains and refuse find their way into the Irk, which receives further
the contents of all the neighboring sewers and privies."
Engels' short, but vivid descriptions of Manchester's industrial town are not so dissimilar
to the conditions that can be found in Newtown Creek, a body of water that sits between
Brooklyn and Queens. This creek acts as a stagnant threshold into New York City's largest
manufacturing companies. In 1850, more than fifty refineries set up shop along this creek
and for hundreds of years contaminated the air, water and soil of the site. This site is now
a registered Superfund site by the state of New York and serves as an example of a site
where Excretal Architecture could be implemented.
13
A Historical Glance Soil Degradation
Microorganisms/bacteria are adaptable
organisms that regenrote organic waste into
high quality soil
Darwin observes the
action of earthworms
reviving soil In his
backyard. Then
publishes book of
observations titled,"
The Formation of
Vgetable Mould
Through the Action of
Worms"
Soil and water
Contamination coincides with
Industrial manufacturing
SECOND INDI
FIRST INDUSTRIAL ERA
1750
3.5 GIGAYEARS AGO
I
I
3.5
1750 Pre-industrial period
Microorganisms: first living organisms
on earth
Civilizations were built
n passive/solor building methods. Working
with natural ecological systemswas intuitive.
oldest organitm kvng on tie
Arhae:bacea are the
Earth. Theyare
prokaryotesand belongto
the kingdom,Archaea.They were first discoveredIn
1977and dasifed as bacteria.Meetarchebacteria
appear Nhebactedtawien observed
she
migoscope. However,theyare quile differentfrom
Archaebacteria
are
bacteriaand eukaryoticorgansems.
found in very harshcondittons suchas in tie volcanic
ventser at the bottomof the sea.Theycan easily survive
in sechextremeeenmred as sea anb
reteatg
.ilde-rich gase, ht springs, or baing meadaround
Vocano.
1850
1800
i
I
I
I
I i
I
The Great
Stink of
1858
Industrial
Agriculture
Joseph
bazolgetter, dvil
engineer designs
first sewerage
system in london
(100 miles)
The identification of npk (nitrogen,
potassium, and phosphorus) leads
to the manufacturing of synthetic
fertilizers (this off ects a spike in
arrable land erosion)
unicellular
under
Manchester
Working Class
Karl Marx
Projections of the
ramifications of an
industrial society
constructed w/o
proper ecological
considerations.
Frederick angels
publishes a book on
thepoor inhumane
conditions of the
working class in
manchester, where
thefirst
manufacturing
process took place.
Newtown Creek (NTC)
Fifty refineries set up shop along
Newtown Creek InNew York
City leading to soil and water
contamination. Justa few years
later, In 1856, companies start to
dump raw sewage into the creek.
14
An increase in industrial manufacturing
advances ustechnologically, but further
contributes to high levels of contamination of
ground and water
FORDIST ERA
Massproduction, efficiency, speed
and massquantities
Spike in massproduction and
consumption
THE 60S
Post-industrial peak, leftist riots
Focuson environmental policy change
and public health
)USTRIAL ERA
2050
2000
1950
1900
I I I|II|
2012
The Dust Bowl
Permaculture
Industrial farming caused over 100 million
acres of land in the High Plains to be
stripped of its native buffalo grass and
bad
barren of any crop. Duinga partkulady
starmonMay9,1934, over three tons of dust
for every American alive at the time
traveled from west to east across the
country. Thedust blanketed Chicago, New
York, Atlanta and other urban centers. it
darkened the skiesand choked those who
ventured in it hundreds of milesfrom its
source. Thestorm spanned 1,800 miles,
spreading 350 million tons of dust across
the nation.
Permacultural practices take off in
Australia, Austria and the United
Sates. The damaging effects of
industrial farming techniques
encourage a shift to organic farming
practices.
Postpost industrial state
Shrinking cities
Increasing abandonment
Of industrial facilities
NTC - Superfund Site
InSeptember, NTCgets listed as a
Superfund Site after finding harsh industrial
metals and contaminants in sediment
samplings.
NTC - Poor Water Quality
New York State declared that Newtown
Creek was not meeting water standards
under the Clean Water Act.
15
First Signs of Contamination
From Contaminated Zones to Garden Cities
Many theorists and philosophers projected that economic and urban growth, without sensitive
consideration of ecology would eventual lead to the depletion of the very resources that
enabled productive economy.
"It is not the unity of living and active humanity with the
natural, inorganic conditions of their metabolic exchange
with nature, and hence their appropriation of nature,
which requires explanation or is the result of a historic
process, but rather the separation between these inorganic
conditions of human existence and this active existence, a
separation which is completely posited only in the relation
of wage labor and capital."
-Karl Marx, Grundrisse
16
This diagram is an early illustration that I altered at the onset of thesis. The last scenario was added to
Ebenezer Howard's orginal drawing. The original purpose of his drawing was to imagine improved living
conditions during the first Industrial era. The 'Now!" scenario that is added imagines life one step further. Could
buildings and parks be more productive?
17
A Zero Waste Approach
This diagram illustrates the perentages of waste by category. The aim of this thesis is to address natural waste,
which consists of anything that is biodegradable. (Source: US EPA)
18
Could we have come full circle? From an agrarian to industrialized and now back to somewhat of an agrarian
state? Prior to Industrialization, humans were sensitive to the environment. This relationship was evident in two
essential components of living: food and shelter. Buildings were predominantly built out of local materials that
were easily transportable and in close proximity. Forms of buildings were optimal for interior comfort. The aim
was to take advantage of 'free' resources.
19
Contamination and Toxicity
pH scale
ALKALINE
ACIDIC
NEUTRAL
G
1
L~±WJ".L. t LLftiL.
I.t
!!
I
(A 1 1 1|
11
hw
W-.
12 13 14t
-
b..*d
-
-"
The diagram above was an attempt at trying to understand pH balances and levels of acidity in products. It was
a way of delving into the chemistry of things.
GLUEF
ERTT IlZIER
R AW
COA L
OIL
Shown above is a brief timeline of Newtown Creek, the site that acts as a sample site for this thesis where
excretal architecture could start to be implemented. (Source: US EPA)
20
Prior to industrialization, it was apparent that humans were much more aware of natural ecological systems in
their daily life. This was apparent in architecture and food production. Architecture was designed to take full
advantage of sunshine hours and wind directions for ventilation and cooling. Farming practices didn't involve toxic
chemicals or harmful fertilizers.
21
Precedents
22
Air Flow Studies
HOW DOESITWORK?
CONDITION
HYPERBOLIC
(NEGATIVE
GAUSSIANCURVATURE)
1. WATERBOILSAT BASE
2. STEAMRISES
3. NARROWING Of TOWER
LAMINARFLOW
ACCELERATES
MASS
(THERMAL
MASS)
COURTYARD
HOUSES
DIRECTIONAL
KASBAH
(TRADITIONAL
MIDDLE
EASTER
HOUSE)
COOLNESSAT NIGHT
1. MASSSTORES
IT DURINGTHEDAY
AND DISSIPATES
(WARMERHOURS)
WIND CATCHERS
(TOWERS)
RNMAN
-AGDIR (TRADITIONAL
HOUSESOf YAZD)
AT LOWERLEVEL
1. HEATENTERS
THROUGH
THENVENTILATES
CONVECTION
momEof mesoeblesof moleculeswIin
HOUSES/ GENERAL
BUENGS
WHEREWIND IS UR4-DRECTIONAL
HEATLOSSBY CONVECTION
ACROSSTHEROOF
Above is research and analysis on natural heating and cooling methods found in varying examples of
architecture.
23
Waste Flows/Sewer Geometries
RIVER
SEWER
TREATMENT FACILITY
These diagrams are samples from simple waste flow studies conducted in order to understand at which
point architecture could enter to prevent waste flowing out inro surrounding bodies of water.
24
New York City Water Filtration Process
TYRCAL NYC SEW AGE
RLTRATION
0
1
t
e
This diagram shows a typical city wastewater treament process in a facility. The information was
sourced from NYC DEP).
25
Typical Sewer System Flow
I
DRY WEATHER
WET WEATHER
This diagram shows the performance of a typical city sewer system or a publicly-owned treatment works
(POTW) during dry and wet weather.
26
Abstracted Porosity Studies
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Shown above are varying porosity levels. They are abstracted renditions of the porosity levels of soil, oyster
gills and biosand filtration system.
27
Composting During Thesis Semester
(Duration: 3 months)
~f
%VMW
WofufifoMe
28
I obtained some worms from a local organization and tried to compost my daily foodscraps in order to produce
fresh compost for my final model. Unfortunately, it didn't make enough clean compost in time.
29
Formal Studies
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At the onset of the semester, I studied the formal geometries of buildings and infrastructure in order
to get better aquainted with how much the forms affected the performance of the structure. I looked
at various vernacular buildings that were commonly known to be successful at naturally heating and
cooling interior spaces.
30
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Field Condition Studies
(3D Printed Physical Models)
34
3D printed studies of applying and adapting forms in a field condition.
35
Transformation Study
Shown here are transformational studies from a square to hexagon across a sectionally varied field.
The field imagined here was a sloped landscape.
36
Transformation Study
*,74,
44
4A
Ak
Shown here are transformational studies from a square to hexagon across a sectionally varied field.
This differed from the previous study because I was studying a dipped field - one that could retain water.
37
Sinosoidal Geometry Study
~
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4
4
4
4
4
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4
This was a study aggregating a form that was ideal for sinosoidal airflow. Serendipidously, an interesting
relationship between for interior to roof access was discovered.
38
Sinosoidal Scale Change
I
i
*
I
I
4% "
4%
This was a similar study of the same form, but changing its scale to see how that could allow flexibility in airflow
and temperature change across a field.
39
Sinosoidal Geometry Study
&
I
I
I
~
Airflow study models shown above on a flat site. The bottom level was kept open to allow actual testing.
40
Sinosoidal Geometry Study
alb ml Est
t
Airflow study models shown above on a sectionally-varied site. The aggregation of the form was kept the same
in order to be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of what the field conditions could offer.
41
Thermal Mass Study
Uo
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This model was a study of thermal performance. The performations were varied to try to understand how
different needs of occupants could be accommodated across a site.
42
Packing Study
A
I
A
Dome structure studies. The varying was an attempt at creating the potential for interior spaces with differing
temperatures.
43
Hyperbolic Geometry Study
This form was taken from a cooling tower, which has a hyperbolic geometry. It was packed across a field to see
the spatial potential.
44
45
Site Adapta bility and
Scalability
The site of Newtown Creek will be approached through a tabular rasa fashion. Due to the
presumed conclusion that more than one hundred fifty years of industrial activity on the site
probably contaminated the majority of the land cover and water that make of the site.
46
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47
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HIGHDENSITY
MANUFACTURING
MODERATE
DENSITY
MANUFACTURING
MODERATE
DENSITY
MANUFACTURING
ANDCOMMERCIAl
MANUFACTURING
LOWDENSITY
49
Newtown Creek Industrial Area
50
(Information on the maps were sourced from data from the Newtown Creek Alliance)
51
Adaptability and Scalability
The excretal forms are organized through a propogation of circles organized by a grid,
tangencies and gradations across the site. Show here, is a preliminary urban program. Te
program consists of:
-Innovation District
-Expermental Farm
-Residential Areas
-Natural Burial Forest
-Urban Remedial and Recreational
Beaches and Pools
-Compost Park
52
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in
Design Proposal
Organization and Aggregation
The excretal forms are organized and constructed through their tangencies sectionally and
through their apertures in plan.
Natural Lighting
Natural light enters the structures through central light shafts.
Water
Water is collected, filtered and dispersed through the collection containments at the roof.
These do not have to occur at every instance.
Sanitation
All toilets are dry composting toilets so that they do not enter the larger systems. It is seen as
a closed loop system in this Excretal City.
Circulation
Circulation is organized centrally in the elevator cores. These are used by both residents
and visitors. They are educational platforms as well because you can visit the underground
composting facilities.
Material
Cast-in-place reinforced concrete is the proposed material. The structures are constructed as
they are needed.
54
ZONING STRATEGIES
PROGRAM ZONING
/REMEDIATION
UNDERGROUND NODES
N UNDERGROUND
ACCESS
POINTS
WASTE SYSTEMS
UNDER/ABOVEGROUND
n UNDERGROUND
ACCESS
POINTS
ORGANIZATIONAL STUDIES
TANGENCIES
SPINAL
CLUSTERINGAROUND HNGEPOINTS
INFRASTRUCTURAL POTENTIAL
STREETS/PATHS
SECTIONAL
OVERLAP
HINGEPOINT S
55
Formal Potential of Cone Geometry
(Landscape, Median, Architecture)
Landscape
0)
0
~cciIi~
Median
IZZZIN EZZIZi
~ZZN
I
<T>
56
Landscape
z1Z
-G------
fIN ZZ\
H
B
These conical structures are a type that allowed me to explore the performative qualities of a living
building, which could blur the line between landscape, urban space and architecture.
57
Program Taxonomy
Lg
PHASES OF
NATURAL BURIAL
FOREST
g
~
A,.
i"-
g
g
g
g
PLANTERS
AT
/
WATER COLLECTlONH/ET RAION
WATER SOURCE/IRTTNGS
- -----
CUSTOMABLE APERTURE
ORIENTATION
58
1oU-o.
EXPERIMENTAL
FARMING
FLEXIBLE ROOF SYSTEMS
ABILITY TO ATTACH EXTERNAL MEMBRANES
75'
CIRCULATiON BETWEEN UNITS
STRUCTURAL FOUNDATION
59
RECREATIONALIREMEDWATIONAL POOL
CONTAINMENT
SLOPED RESINEW GROUND
SHADED AREAS FOR
MUSHROOM/BROCCOU FARMS
60
Rules to Building an Excretal City
FOUNDATION ALIGNMENT
CENTRAL ATRIUM FOR
NATURAL LIGHTING
STRUCTURAL CORE
STACKING
-MUST ADD 8' INTERVENING LEVEL FOR
PROGRAMMATIC ACCESSIBILITY FROM
CIRCULATION CORE
61
NESTING
-ANGLE OF SLOPE MUST ALIGN
W/NESTING PARTNER
FORMING NEW GROUND
-EDGE TANGENCIES
-FLEXIBLE CORES
62
STEEP SLOPE
-IF SLOPE OF CONE IS INACCESSIBLE
DUE TO STEEPNESS, MAKE THAT PORTION
AN EXIT/ENTRY POINT
I
I
PLANNING FOR GROWTH
-WHEN STACKING NEW STRUCTURES,
ADD WALKWAYS TO THE PERIMETER
SO THAT STREETS COULD FORM
FROM ADJACENCIES
63
Typical Plan and Section
(of an Excretal City)
64
-I
-~
j
-
65
Typical Plan
66
Shown above is a typical plan layout with the main elevator and stair circulation core in the center and
residential units radially organized in a flexible fashion. The idea is that the infrastructure is set up for the
dwellers to decide how these forms get divided depending on unique needs.
67
68
Shown in this plan are a guide of holes in the floorplate, which are to be used for your individual portable toilet
pod. Every unit has an "underyard" composting facility underneath where the excreta can deposit to.
69
Typical Section
/
70
TYPICAL RESIDENTIAL
SCALE'1/6"
71
NTIALSEION
.1/8"
72
N
73
Typical City Scape
Above is a rendering of an imagined typical day meandering through the city. One would interface wtih
familiar urban conditions as well as experience new program, such as seeing finished compost fall from the
undersides of buildings.
74
Typical Open Air Lobby to Residence
Typical open air lobby or entry area into a rentable space. The spaces could be residences or offices.
75
Typical Interior
(Lofted space, skylight)
Shown above is a typical interior lofted unit. Each unit is a wedge that is approximately 15' high. The skylight
and elevator shaft are the main sources of natural light, which is the encouraged before using artificial lighting.
76
Tending to One's Underyard
Shown above is a typical interior lofted unit. Each unit is a wedge that is approximately 15' high. The skylight
and elevator shaft are the main sources of natural light, which is the encouraged before using artificial lighting.
77
The above renderings show a typical "underyard" of a residence. Each dwelling unit comes equipped with a
personal humanure composting facility. In the background is the main elevator core that serves as a space for
visitors to view the actions taking place as well as circulation for actual occupants.
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Section through a Sliver of the City
(Flexible Characteristics)
The section shows the ability for the city to transform and perform differently between dry and wet weather.
Before a storm, interior waterfront spaces have flexible programs such as market stalls, art gallery spaces and
performance halls. After or during or storm, these forms become storage facilities for boats, and market set up
materials. They also retain water and act as flood mitigators. The inhabitants can ascend up the tower as the
79
Typical City Scape
This rendering shows a moment where passersby could be educated on how rainwater is collected on the roofs
of buildings.
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Typical Open Air Lobby to Residence
After a storm, the city might be submerged, but in an a city constructed of excretal architecture, buildings and
streets are made to be aqueous. Submergeance is expected.
81
Section Showing Stackable Qualities
and Waterfront Program
82
83
City Details - Recreation
84
Having an adaptable form allows for a multiplicity of recreational activities to emerge. Who needs a mountain,
when you have an excretal wall to climb? Outdoor sports are made more accessible through the formal
transformations across the city.
85
City Details - Compost Toilet Program
86
The proposed humanure sanitation system is designed to use a thermophilic composting process of human waste.
This process is an aerobic decomposition of organic matter. It includes a high temperature stage where most of
the work is done by microorganisms.
(Source: http://humanurehandbook.com)
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88
City Details - Water Filtration and Source
Water is collected, filtered and then dispersed for use. Afterwards, through a greywater system, used water is
filtered and recycled for use within the city landscape.
89
Night Scene
Flexible buildings could house performances that could be enjoyed by passersby. The flexibility of section
through the city creates new datums. In turn, this creates a dynamic experience of the city.
90
Excretal City Sampling
(Physical Model)
91
Bring Your Own Wall Material
Felt Wall Peliminary Detail
The purpose of the forms presented are to provide the insfrastructure for programmatic use. At one point, I
thought it would be interesting to design wall/insulation systems from waste material such as jeans or felt. These
could be easily clipped onto the forms and stowed away when not used.
93
Final Model (Portion of a City)
94
The physical model delineates the performance of the buildings. The white portions show how the water filtration
systems work.
95
Final Model (Portion of a City)
96
Shown above is a typical view to productive parks, where the soil making up the grounds comes directly from
the composting facilities, which hold and process human excreta from the composting toilets within.
97
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100
Appendix
101
Final Thesis Defense
December 20, 2012
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103
Initial Concept Sketch
I
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105
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