Imagine our colossal municipal landfills as sensible resource sheds to build our future urban and peri  urban spaces. If so, what kind of effort is required to reuse their copious contents? Now that the bulk of humanity has chosen to settle in urbanized areas, waste management needs a radical revision. For hundreds of years we designed sites to generate waste. It is time we design waste to generate our cities.

America is the lead creator of waste on the earth , making approximately 30% of the world’s trash and tossing out 0.8 tons per U.S. citizen per year. Ungracefully, our American value system is somewhat distressed. It seems value has devolved into feats of rampant affluenza and mega products scaled for super-sized franchise brands, big box retail, XXXL jumbo paraphernalia, etc., encapsulating a joint race for ubiquity and instantaneity in the U.S. mindset. Where does it all end up? Gertrude Stein cleverly pointed out; “away has gone away”. The first step we must take is reduction; meaning a massive discontinuation of objects designed for obsolescence. Then we need a radical reuse plan. Our waste crisis is immense , what is our call to action?

New York City is disposing of 38,000 tons of waste per day.  Most of this discarded material ended up in Fresh Kills landfill before it closed. The Rapid Re(f)use project supposes an extended New York reconstituted from its own landfill material.

With our method, we can remake seven entirely new Manhattan islands at full scale.  Automated robot 3d printers are modified to process trash and complete this task within decades.  These robots are based on existing techniques commonly found in industrial waste compaction devices.  Instead of machines that crush objects into cubes, these devices have jaws that make simple shape grammars for assembly.  Different materials serve specified purposes; plastic for fenestration, organic compounds for temporary scaffolds, metals for primary structures, and etc.  Eventually, the future city makes no distinction between waste and supply.

Credits:  Mitchell Joachim, Maria Aiolova, Melanie Fessel, Emily Johnson, Ian Slover, Philip Weller, Zachary Aders, Webb Allen, Niloufar Karimzadegan, Lauren Sarafan