The Municipal C.H.U.W.

Center for Harvesting Utility from Waste

Graduate Thesis, Princeton University SoA, Fall 2013
Holcim Award Next Generation 2014 - 1st Prize

Neighborhood Ecology. Distributed Network of Neighborhood C.H.U.W.s. +
Building Ecology of a Municipal C.H.U.W. Material Flow Diagram
Household Waste vs. Personal Waste Volume
Municipal waste is the largest untapped resource for our cities today. It is a resource that continues to be marginalized under our lifestyle of linear consumption. From the market to the dump, products and goods consumed in our urban environment find their way to the fringes of society, both physically and culturally. However, as transportation costs become burdensome and landfill space scarce, a rethinking of our waste system is brought to bear. Cities literally need to be resource(ful). In light of this consideration, an opportunity arises to exploit city waste for the extraction of environment, economic and social value.

Using New York City as a test site, the Municipal C.H.U.W. proposes to re-institutionalize the city’s waste management system in pursuit of these values. Focusing specifically on quotidian household waste, the C.H.U.W. operates on a dispersed micro-grid system that champions the benefits of digesting our waste locally. Collection and transportation methods, frequency of distribution, material recovery, and energy generation all figure in to a new environmental efficiency that matches the agility of the city.

The project focuses on one prototypical C.H.U.W. facility located in the East Village that operates like a machine for processing collected waste into its constituent categories of organics, metals, paper, plastic and glass. The design, however, promotes a duality of extraction and production, coupling material recovery and on-site light manufacturing. Part supplier and part factory, the C.H.U.W. generates economic value through the local production of raw material as well as end product. In having a physical presence in the city, the Municipal C.H.U.W. narrows the gap in our social conscience between what we consume and what we produce. Community participation is fostered through composting and fabrication workshops, programs that emphasize interaction with waste material in the spirit of production.