Cultivating dynamic landscapes

Celebrating its 30 year anniversary, the 16th International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium organized by Eurowaste from 2-6 October in Sardinia has witnessed radical changes in practices of solid waste management throughout the global south and global north. It has been an influential platform for these new practices, policies and research in waste management.

Thermal Grove: the research project A (Re)planned Obsolescence was presented at the 16th International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium (image: Harvard GSD | WTEdLab)


Social value through landscape design

The topic of Waste Architecture was included for the first time in the history of the International Symposium under the Waste Architecture Platform. Presentations focused primarily on creating social value through landscape and architectural design projects related to the practice of landfilling demonstrated through case studies, design research and Masters Theses.

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Preoccupations with managing public perception, strategies to eliminate negative connotations associated with these types of facilities and strategies for integrating educational components that aim to make the various waste management processes more transparent to society were recurrent subjects in various presentations such as the one by Israel Alba or the workshop chaired by Hanif Kara.

Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design presented their recently completed research on Architecture and Waste,
A (Re)planned Obsolescence
. This project focused on the role that architecture and design can have on better integrating Waste to Energy facilities in their context while addressing issues of the eventual obsolescence of the facilities and their potential future reuse. The presentation offered a series of tools, strategies and protocols that aim to reconfigure the organization of these plants in response to; tighter sites located within urban contexts, coexistence with potentially compatible public programs, future occupancies as well as a range of hybridization strategies that address public perceptions and future obsolescence while also aiming to minimize energy loss and making the plants more efficient in their inputs/outputs.

Cultivation of dynamic landscapes

There was also an emphasis on the importance of the cultivation of dynamic landscapes and environments where the engineering of buffer zones between the plant and the surrounding areas would address storm water management strategies or the integration of wetlands for phytoremediation purposes.

These areas of exploration in landscape and architectural design related to the waste industry are in their infancy, yet the work presented at the conference caught the imagination of an audience eager to hear more on the subject and seduced by projects that use design as a vehicle to celebrate and offer compelling prototypes and solutions within a wider transparent waste management processes.