Multifunctional waste separation in Valby Have
The increase in waste generation in urban settlements requires new sustainable ways of talking about and handling waste. This demands better waste separation methods and a change in the way we approach waste, not as a problem but as a resource. In order to achieve this we need bottom-up solutions, where citizens are a part of the development.
Multifunctional waste solutions
The upper-story houses in Valby Have are in dire need of new recycling bins that enable waste separation in the different compartments, as mandated by the Copenhagen Municipality. Valby Have is one out of 3 testing areas in Copenhagen that was developed to investigate the advantages and challenges with creating multifunctional solutions in public spaces. The project presented both challenges and opportunities; a challenge because simply increasing the number of recycling bins was spatially not possible, but an opportunity because it would not only respond to the recycling needs but also enhance the public realm of the neighborhood.
Activating local knowledge
In order to create a sustainable solution, we collaborated with the inhabitants, including them in the concept-development and design processes. The new design could only be successful if we incorporated community members’ local knowledge and ideas. The project started with a workshop, where we invited people from all ages to share their ideas and visions. Using the idea-generating board game, arki_nopoly, we gathered numerous data and insight. Furthermore the children were invited to make small art pieces out of waste – a way to ‘turn trash into gold’. In addition to the actual workshop we also used various digital tools, such as our collage app, CoCityApp, and surveys to enable more participation.
Spatial understanding through prototyping
After the event we analyzed the data, presenting inhabitants with 7 designs at the second event, where they brainstormed further on various design solutions. To demonstrate the designs more clearly we made different prototypes that activated the space and provided a better spatial understanding. The overall purpose of the second event was to test the different ideas before reaching a final design. During the event inhabitants voted and gave feedback on the design schemes.
User involvement changes behavior patterns
It’s not just the multifunctionality of the final design that enables sustainable ways of sorting waste but also the users involving themselves in the process of creation. When we went to Valby Have to do the workshop we found that most people were quite interested in waste separation. A lot of the inhabitants already sort their waste in spite of the lack of recycling bins, by going to the local recycling centre. The children are no less part of this project. Many of those we met at the workshop had had lessons about waste management in school. Two girls even came prepared – they had drawn a detailed sketch of how to use the space under the sink more efficiently to provide room for more bins for the different waste fractions. Discussing the importance of waste separation, the cycles of consumer products, and the value of waste is part of the new sustainable approach to waste management.
The ideas generated in this project have formed an idea catalogue, which will hopefully inspire co-designing processes of sustainable waste separation solutions in other areas with similar challenges. The open ended approach to waste separation solutions helps to show that there isn’t just a single or final solution to the question of sustainable waste management – it is an ongoing process requiring a close and collaborative effort from all involved parties.
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