Metamorphosis of the Landfill: Turning Garbage Dumps into Proactive Parks

Garbage dump regeneration project that turns landfill waste into a laboratory of sustainability and education about environmental impacts. The metamorphosis of the landfill breaks the perception of how people perceive waste, and how to manage it effectively.
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Designer(s) : Mohamad Alamin Younis

University : Azm University

Tutor(s) : Prof. Jamal Abed and Dr Halah Abi Haydar

Are people truly aware of the serious impact that the rapidly growing mountains of trash have on the natural and built environment?

If we look at how waste is segregated, collected, and finally disposed of, we could see how unsustainable this is for the built environment. Most cities around the globe follow a linear model in their operation: a flow of input/supply- be it energy, water, people, food, vehicles, and material – is processed and consumed resulting in an output flow of sewage, garbage, waste, and pollution. Such an unsustainable operation necessitates that every city designates a “backyard” to dispose of its output on a site that is out of its sight.

The impact of such a statement is seen at the social and urban level of most cities, where the public is absent in these highly industrial areas. It is safe to say that when the flow of the public is cut from the waste management sector, people are less likely to know about their anthropic actions. How could architecture change the way backyards are seen by people, and turn them into anchors for environmental awareness?

I have chosen the saturated dump of Tripoli, the city where I live. Located at the delta of the polluted city river, this backyard is composed of a 60,000 (m2) garbage landfill with a volume of 3,000,000 m3, a centralized sewage treatment plant, a wholesale vegetable market, and a municipal slaughterhouse. Today, Tripoli is forced not only to find a solution for the produced pollution and serious health-damaging environment affecting the whole city but to respond to pressures of population and urban growth by “unlocking” the surrounding remaining 5% of the city’s undeveloped vacant area and regaining vital access of the public to an important natural asset of the waterfront.

When understanding the environmental limitations of the waste management sector and its required facilities, design strategies could propose an added sustainable value to the built-up environment. The use of the term “sustainable” is not solely bound by the ecological performance of architecture, but also encompasses people’s awareness to practice sustainability. Thus, when preparing the public to intervene in the workflow of the waste sector, architecture is premised on the capacity of design (urban and architecture included) to address ill-defined/”wicked” problems similar to the one at hand.

Architecture design strategies must therefore answer: how is man meeting the machine in the context of sustainable design?

Furthermore, this architecture essay showcases how the design solution is seen through interdisciplinary lenses of cybernetics theory of design (Pangaro P., 2019a, 2019b, & 2017; Pask G. 1969; Strichow H.J. 2013, Wiener N., 1948), the theory of the Anthropocene (Turpin E., 2014 & 2013) and the study of precedents in Lebanon. To break the balance within a system that prevailed over forty years, this essay starts by mapping through architectural diagrams the network of agents that lead to a metamorphosis of the systems of relations across phases of time.

By adopting a more sustainable waste flow chart, the growth rate of the park is reduced by 50% compared to the saturated dump.

Design strategies behind the project rendered the park a proactive and sustainable environment that aims at minimizing the ecological footprint across generations. If people only look at the waste sector as an environmental warning device, instead of a backyard, people would understand the powerful message that these spaces want to reflect: the management of your waste determines the quality of cities, in which future generations will live in…