Geographies of Trash

Beyond creating environmental fixes, what is the agency of design in shaping urban technologies?

What are the social, political, and ecological imperatives of waste management, how are they hidden by contemporary managerial practices, and how can design make them public?

Can an alternative aesthetic and practice of waste management make trash a constructive component of the geographic imagination? 

Geographies of Trash reclaims the forms, technologies, economies and logistics of the waste system in the production of new aesthetics and politics of urbanism. Honored with a 2014 ACSA Faculty Design Award, the book charts the geographies of trash in Michigan across scales to propose five speculative projects that perform disciplinary controversies on the relations of technology, territory and politics. The research-design methodology and book structure adopt a threefold approach, 1) to conceptualize the spatial issues imbricated in the burial, mass burning, abandonment, recycling, or exile of economic excess; 2) to chart relations of trash and space in Michigan across different scales – from the block, township, territorial grid, state to continental flows; 3) to speculate on alternative strategies, rituals and imaginaries that reclaim trash as “matter in place.” Geographies of Trash proposes five situated yet generic architectural strategies of trash-formations throughout the American territorial grid. The five discrete projects, Cap, Collect, Contain, Preserve, and Form, engage alternative imaginaries for landfilling, recycling, burning, re-using, dumping and valuing. By making trash visible and formal, the project aspires to engage disciplinary debates on technological systems in urbanism.