Waste Design Strategies | Aristide Antonas

The world is confronted with a huge problem when we talk about waste. Issues like e-waste, retail hazardous waste and many other kind of industrial waste and garbage in general terms are “exported” to third-world countries and affect millions of people every year. Rapid technology change, low initial cost, and planned obsolescence have resulted in a fast-growing surplus of waste around the globe and the dimensions of the problem drives architects and artist to look for solutions and to find ways of re-using and recycling waste in their projects. Aristide Antonas is one of this architects, and he says about his Waste Design Strategies:

We can think about designing “with waste” through some general strategies that describe the eventual construction of shape through matter that is not wanted any more for the purpose it was meant to exist. Design out of waste thus means either reinventing ways of re-appropriating objects or using a mass of unused objects in order to create a particular unified but multiple mass that we could call a mixed “material”. These two different strategies produce two different types of productivity through waste. The first productivity needs the transformation of an object or of a construction to another mechanism. It needs the specific object for some of its particular characteristics that can swift the rational of a “find in the waste” into a different rational. A change in the ruling concept of the object is then proposed. In this waste design strategy, the architect is first called to act as an archeologist of waste.

The new problems of cities are increased with a disproportionate human behaviour in a capitalist society used to disposable objects. Antonas asks himself How an architecture can be thought in this frame?. Architecture will either be condensed in a operation concerning the object or it will occur as a creation of empty spaces in a recycled mass. A complex attitude that uses recycled objects in order to create such voids in the mixed material mass could be named negative design. It is supposed to create negative places out of the use of tanks, kegs and other preexisting structures that can permit the creation of vacant places.

The temptation to export waste is a big temptation, simply because recycling properly at home is expensive. As we can read in The New York Times, in July 2009, a shipment of 1,400 metric tons of British household garbage that was illegally sent to South America — labeled as clean plastic for recycling — was apprehended only after it landed in Brazil. That’s why we think that forward-thinkers as Antonas are doing a great work with their speculative projects, they’re looking for re-invent ways to focus architecture as a more sustainable and social discipline.

From the design statements:

However a sink and a water tub are still found objects for an archeologist of waste. In first place we need this archeological approach. A classification of the waste is needed. Not only to identify some objects that will be glorified as such through a particular transformation of themselves, while we consider them as isolated pieces.


A keg, a pile of waste and an office are three conceptual entities that we are not used to see together. Their coexistence seeks a poetic tradition coming down to Apollinaire. Pasting kegs into a mass of waste is an architectonic oxymoron that intends to be read as such. A certain mnemonic reconstitution is operated here that is maybe identified to a voluntary architectonic amnesia.

We would like to thanks Aristide Antonas for sharing his projects with us. You can see most of his work here.


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