Constructing Waste

Hundreds of tons of waste are produces in Singapore every day. These wastes represent an invaluable pool of resources, which could be activated by rethinking their designs. The ‘hands on the material’ seminar CONSTRUCTING WASTE will interrogate the concept of up-cycling strategies in order to minimize the overall refuse amount being produced in Singapore. The focus on design questions should create second life cycles for otherwise waste products.

The seminar will be conducted as a combination of input lectures, reading seminars and the production of full- scale up-cycling design products. Students will be asked to map the nature and flows of an everyday product through different research methods and finally to change the product design in order to influence both waste and material stock and flows in the future. 10 weeks of seminar will result in 3 credit points, project descriptions and an up-cycling prototype in full scale.

The Chair of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel at FCL Singapore is organizing an FCL-SEC Fall Semester 2012 Seminar CONSTRUCTING WASTE.



  • WEEK1      20 September 2012            Introduction: CONSTRUCTING WASTE

 BIO: Asst. Prof. Dirk Hebel

Dirk Hebel is currently holding the position of Assistant Professor at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, a research project of ETH Zurich with the National Research Foundation Singapore. Prior to that, he was the founding Scientific Director of the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Since 2007 Dirk has been involved in the United_Bottle Project. Fifty billion PET bottles are currently circulating in Europe alone. Since the obligatory bottle deposit was introduced, the return quota has exceeded 90 percent. PET bottles can be used as returnable bottles as well as recycled, and transformed into a variety of products – from all form of PET vessels to textiles, such as linings and fleece fabrics. This process – called “Up-cycling” – mostly occurs in China, while the final products are sold again on the European market. This intersection of local and global circuits forms the basis of the project UNITED_BOTTLE. Taken into consideration the increasing scarcity of resources, UNITED_BOTTLE suggests additional recycling circuits to those existing ones. The project’s working hypothesis is that future design should think beyond the product, and design the waste the project will turn into – in order to open up possibilities for prospective use and abuse. The PET bottle offers an ideal model with which to study and implement this design agenda.


  • WEEK2     27 September 2012             Territorial Scale: TRASH VOYAGE

 BIO: Prof. Dr Stephen CairnsStephen Cairns is a Scientific Co-ordinator of the Future Cities Laboratory in the Singapore-ETH Centre, and Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Edinburgh. He is a member of KRUPUC, an independent inter-disciplinary, multi-sectorial research, planning and design platform focused on issues of urbanisation in the Southeast Asian region.
The second week’s presentation by Stephen Crains is a successful trial to marry his two separate researches on WASTE and MAPPING. The first one elaborates on the outstanding publications concerning waste in a socio-cultural context. ‘Rubbish Theory’ by Michael Thompson or ‘Purity and Danger’ by Mary Douglas might be easily classified as such. The second part presents historically and graphically acknowledged diagrams. Here the Napoleon’s march by Charles Minard, the famous Sankey diagrams and self-organizing maps are put forward. ‘Architecture must die’ is the closing controversial matter introduced by Stephen. The theories of ‘Learning Architecture’, ‘Thickening Buildings’ and the ‘Broken Windows’ might easily trigger further discussions.


  • WEEK3     4 October 2012                     Up-cycling: CRADLE TO CRADLE

BIO: Dr Sun Xiaolong, PhD

Dr Sun Xiaolong majored in Materials Science & Engineering. His research areas are waste-to-resource and environmental applications of materials science. He has 10 years of research experience in waste treatment and recycling, materials characterization, synthesis, and applications; and 3 years industrial experience as a process engineer.

Dr Sun in his talk ‘Why Waste Waste?’ presents solid waste treatment and recycling with physical and chemical technologies. A big variety of refuse materials require different management, which nowadays successfully lead to a second life cycle. Whether it is plastic, paper or glass the technologies developed in Singapore and other counties allow the applications of those materials in everyday life including construction industry.


  • WEEK4     11 October 2012                  Social Aspect: DESIGN LIKE YOU GIVE A DAMN

BIO: Assoc. Prof. Wang Jing-Yuan

 Prof. Wang is an Associate Professor of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and is currently Director of the Residues and Resource Reclamation Centre of NTU. Dr. His current research interests are focused on waste to energy, decentralized waste resource management, and land reclamation of closed dumping ground.

According to the R3C’s Research Philosophy: Waste is not waste, but misplaced resources following manufacturing activities and treatment processes. With proper management and suitable technologies, waste residues can be converted into reusable/new materials, energy, and other products with value. Prof. Wang gave a proof to that during his talk, when he presented one of the most successful latest inventions of the NTU. The so called ‘No-mix Vacuum Toilet’ is designed in such way that separates the yellow water from brown water. One can be later easily processed to release biogas while the other included into the extraction of chemical compounds.


  • WEEK5     18 October 2012                  Waste Management: TOWARDS ZERO WASTE

 BIO: Ong Seng Eng

Ong Seng Eng, is a chemical engineer and is responsible for solid waste management in Singapore. His duties include promotion of the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), regulatory control on waste collection, manage the operation of waste disposal facilities, viz waste-to-energy incineration plants and Semakau Landfill.

Singapore generates more than 17,800 tones of waste every day. That translates to over 6.5 million tones in a year. Sustainable waste management has played a vital role over the years in safeguarding the public health of Singapore’s population. The success stands behind such programs as 3Rs, Zero Waste, Waste-to-Energy, Waste-to-Resource.  Today, the disposal of rubbish represents a crucial but often overlooked aspect of maintining the environmental well-being of Singapore with tits population of over five million compacted into the land of 710.3 square kilometers.


  • WEEK6     25 October 2012                   Environmental Aspect: SPACESHIP EARTH

BIO: Prof. Dr-Ing Rainer Stegmann

Prof. Dr.-Ing Rainer Stegmann is a retired Professor from the University of Technology in Hamburg, Germany. As head of the Institute of Waste Resource Management he co-owns two patents with his colleagues. Prof. Stegmann is currently a Visiting Professor at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore and Director of the Residues and Resource Reclamation Centre (R3C) at NTU.

A severe problem that the human society faces is the dispersion of residues in the environment. This situation results in a slow continuous toxification of the air (including atmosphere), water (including sediments) and soil. It is only possible to avoid, collect and treat these dispersed emissions today to a certain extend. The scientific community has to quantify these dispersed emissions and has to find a way to deal with this problem. This means further reduction, increased capturing and treatment and/ or final safe disposal.


  • WEEK7      1 November 2012                Commercial Aspect: HYPE OF WASTE

BIO: Marta Wisniewska

Marta Wisniewska received her architectural education at  ZUT Szczecin in Poland, well as at the UdK Berlin in Germany, between 2004 and 2011. Prior to her engagement at FCL Singapore, she was working as a lecturer and architectural program coordinator at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development in Addis Ababa.

Marta Wisniewska, together with Felix Heisel, is practicing architecture in Ethiopia with the design for MULU, a sustainable container village in Addis Ababa, constructed out of 120 recycled shipping containers compiling 29 housing and industrial manufacturing units.The vision of the project is to promote alternative and cost effective building methods in Ethiopia.


  • WEEK8     8 November 2012                Financial Aspect: IS IT WORTH IT? 

BIO: Felix Heisel

Felix Heisel is working as a Researcher in the Chair of Architecture and Construction at the Future Cities Laboratory Singapore, a collaboration of ETH Zurich and NRF Singapore. Preceding this position, he was the coordinator of the 3rd year architecture program at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development in Addis Ababa.

Together with Bisrat Kifle, Felix Heisel initiated the EiABC Movie Series on space appropriation, starting in 2011. The series so far consists out of 4 movies: Disappearing Spaces, Emerging Spaces, Supporting Spaces and Recycling Spaces.


  • WEEK9     15 November 2012              Aesthetic Aspect: IS PLASTIC FANTSTIC?!

BIO:Dr Chen Chia-Lung

Chen Chia- Lung is a Research Fellow and Centre Manager at Residues and Resource Reclamation Centre (R3C) Nanyang Technological University, NTU Singapore. Prior to this position Dr Chen was Application Engineer in the Centre of Innovation in Environmental & Water Technology, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore.
There are around 1 billion different types of bacteria in the world. Out of those, less than 1% is known or described scientifically. Within this huge spectrum, different bacterias are known to have specific qualities and properties. While many cause damage and deceases, others help to produce electricity, heal building materials, reduce waste or even ‘eat’ hazardous chemicals . This weeks’ talk focussed on the positive effects and possibilities of bacterias in various sectors.


  • WEEK10   22 November 2012             FINAL PRESENTATION