designer UNDIs ~ defined

Urban Nutrient Detritivore Infrastructures thrive in cities. The higher density and diversity of inputs offers a nutrient-rich hunting ground for detritivores: those that feed on waste, like vultures. Infrastructure, both physical and organizational will tie these ideas together.

This design thesis is exploring responses to both waste + nutrients ~ designer UNDIs are both acronym and analogy.

My understanding of the food system is shown in the diagram below. We understand the input side much better than the waste flows from production, distribution, and consumption. My approach uses the waste side of food supply to bridge inequities and issues with this system.


In this instance, nutrients do refer to food, but could be any process that redirects waste for use as an ingredient.
The following are a collection of ideas, the majority are my own, with some resurrected practices and some fringe products represented. Please help me continue to develop them by responding with any comments you may have!

This thesis acknowledges waste by exposing it and using it as fodder for responses to the current system of burial and decomposition.

00-wheel2“The future of an architect is to design an urban process rather than a space.”    Teddy Cruz

Nutrients are building blocks of life, both physically and metaphorically. Similarly, an architectural UNDI supports an often unseen, yet undeniably critical component of life systems. Detritivore processes allow waste to be directed towards a need, prior to removal from our visible world. Infrastructures, as public works enabling a community to function more efficiently, are way of optimizing both tangible and intangible elements.

UNDIs operate as acupuncture for existing reality. As such, they seek to be not simply sustainable, but reparative and regenerative. Operating at multiple locations with multiple methods, they are connected through a system definition. Rapid Idea Generators, or RIGs, are yielding a field of responses through which a new infrastructure can be optimized from responses to the varied issues within the present situation. How and where is waste created? Who hauls + treats waste products and at what monetary, environmenal, or social costs? Who has access to they varying levels of food assistance programs and how is that stigmatized? How does the current economic crisis impact nutrient waste + need?


Although this segment is specific to food security, waste products can be seen as ingredients for a variety of urban systems. In this era of detached communication, our inherently physical needs of food, air, energy, water and waste will define program for public realms. Continual discoveries of the interconnectedness of intangible elements to the physical realm support this optimized systemic multiplicity as an alternate to design that promotes a single-concept hierarchy. Infrastructural institutions, such as public libraries, produce something in addition to providing a social service. Similarly, designer UNDIs test process as well as product.


One response to “designer UNDIs ~ defined

  1. Very much enjoyed the way you have laid out the project, the synthesis of the concept, and the way of presenting aspects of the general idea in concrete form.
    UNDI: is that your term? Does it have terminological parallels?


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