about this project

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

Urban Nutrient Detritivore Infrastructures are a framework for social-spatial-scavenging-systems; supportive structures for life. In this instance, nutrients do refer to food, but could be any process that redirects waste for use as an ingredient. The density and diversity of people and products in metropolitan regions allows this reclamation and redistribution to also address concerns of social inequities within the physical environment.

“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, a designer 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.

It seems that many designs prioritize one idea, beating subsidiary elements into submission towards that solitary influence. The intention of this process is to suspend selection, to generate as many ideas as possible, allowing for systemic priorities to emerge. This public display seeks feedback from those that are interested in contributing, particularly those with experience in urban food or waste systems. Or anyone that ponders topics of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Everybody’s gotta eat, right?

This builds towards a larger interdisciplinary-professional initiative: bringing systems that support life [food water energy] back into a position of design prominence as well as social_cultural_political prestige. Too often ‘the dollar’ is used to translate objects + experiences into universal units of trade. Causal costs of decisions, such as those acknowledged by life-cycle analysis, are gaining ground. Yet mainstream American life is still tied to some of the lowest food costs with some of the highest entertainment expenditures. But this is our reality.

We cannot merely state an alternate ideal, we must propose steps that will transition us to ecological loops from our uni-directional system of production-consumption-waste.What does it really take for us, in this day and age, to uphold the intention of the US Constitution: establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,  promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of liberty to ourselves and future generations?


This layout below is used to explain my acupuncture responses to our food system ideas… from these RIGs, designer UNDIs will emerge [to be posted at a later date]. There are a few categories of RIGs: info [information], metro [metropolitan region], retro [bringing back an old idea] , and BIG.RIGs [combinations]. The RIGs are easily accessible through the categories listed in the right navigation column.  how-to-rig-smer2


One response to “about this project

  1. This is a Twin Cities based project called Yards to Gardens that connects those with yards for gardening, prospective gardeners without a yard, those with tools and those with available compost.


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