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Designing reflexive spaces with human waste: Communities of re-sourcefulness in Brussels, Berlin, and Hong Kong

Published in: Proceedings of the 14th conference of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU), 25-27 November 2021: From dichotomies to dialogues — connecting discourses for a sustainable urbanism.

DOI: 10.24404/61729a5c7e18910008ca2929. 31 January, 2022.

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This paper compares three interventionist eco-sanitation cases by applying a structurally extended SWOT matrix for evaluating their transformative relations and capabilities in their respec-tive urban settings of the global north. The enablers and barriers underlying these human waste cycling communities are assessed by combining qualitative-quantitative data collection and multi-form analysis. By complementing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis with the emergent framework of Ideas-Arrangement-Effects (I-A-T), the study assesses the creative potential manifested in these cases. The eco-toilet communities address unsustainable food systems by acting in concert with people, places, and microbes in a profoundly self-implicating pro-cess that stems from an oscillation between actionable immersion and perspectival detachment. This dynamic creates a reflexive conduit for counter-intuitive doing and thinking that diversifies domi-nant and hegemonic perspectives. The three cases, sensible to their respective settings, demonstrate how cultivating a rich, interactive context on the physical, social and psychological level is conducive to the suspense and exchange of positions and a plurality of perspectives on the world, human and nonhuman. Community acceptance and individual satisfaction with urban eco-toilets stems then from balancing this unsettling repositioning with supportive involvement, whereas disrupting bath-room routines, group debates, and agroecological experimentation makes people act in better-at-tuned relations with unknowable otherness.

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Keywords: Agroecological urban toilets, regenerative waste integration, Terra Preta fermentation, Structural SWOT, collectivized resourcefulness..

Acknowledgements:: This publication was made possible with support from Claudiu Forgaci and Rene van der Velde.