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The intent is to confront waste on both a global and local level using architecture to engage and educate the public. Global waste, in this case, is defined as intermodal containers and local waste is defined as municipally collected solid waste. I intend to show through my designs that architecture need not be the source of yet more energy use and material waste. Instead, design can be the vehicle through which we begin to lessen our impact on Planet Earth by reusing the materials already at hand to create architecture and energy.
A waste to energy approach [both architectural and functional] provides a closed loop system in which waste can be reused in a way that is both locally beneficial and ecologically responsible. By creating a Waste-to-Energy Power Plant using recycled building materials the public can begin to understand and manage waste in ways that enhance their own everyday life. The proposed facility located at the Bluffs Road Landfill in Lincoln, NE will actually invite the public to be a part of the disposal/generation process by allowing people to bring their waste, literally ‘throw it on the pile’ and then witness the step by step process of their waste being converted into electricity. The intermodal containers are an added layer of education; what was once industrial waste will be used to create the architectural experience. Architecturally, intermodal containers embody a potential “energy” that is easily transferable to a kinetic “energy” by taking the containers from their inactive positions in container yards and giving them purpose through human use and programmatic function. Likewise, solid waste can easily be changed from a potential to a kinetic energy through the process of burning its combustible elements to generate clean electricity.
These layers of engaging and education will begin to teach people about waste and its effects on the landscape, environment, economy, etc. This idea of reuse is key to engaging and enlightening the public. It invites people to reformulate their preconceptions about unwanted materials and view those materials as purposeful instead of useless. Traditional recycling may be a part of the solution, but it cannot be the answer alone. In order to overcome the indoctrinated practice of disposal without consequence, reuse and repurposement need to be brought to the forefront of people’s minds, in this case through architecture and the function it provides.