N E X T .

Anthroponix (人類水培)

2017-2018 Participating households in Hong Kong and Eindhoven

  • Bio-pedagogic curriculum ‧ explorative work alliance ‧ participatory nutrients cycle ‧ ecohealth interactions

Supported by Design Trust (Hong Kong) and Research Institute for Sustainable Urban Development (可持續城市發展研究院), Creative Industries NL (Rotterdam), in collaboration with Timothy Jachna, Benson Law, Sarah Daher, Lai Kahang, Sophie Wunderlich, Eva & Anne von Strien, Thieu Custers, and Rosa Kuipers.

In a coordinated, biopedagogic effort, 22 households engaged in this ecohealth experiment. Over two months, the participants collected, fermented and monitored personal urine samples at home to fertilize basil, lettuce or waterspinach in a water-based growing solution. In these consequential human-to-plant nutrients passages, participants set out to close their personal foodloop and nurture plants that serve as living biomarkers of eating habits. Yet eventually they were confronted with transformative dynamics from the defamiliarization of self, meaning, and common experience.

Due to its pioneering ambition, Anthroponix failed hortitechnically and produced no edible outcome. Nonetheless, all participants stayed motivated throughout the project and were able to prosper in the unusual work alliance since it brought a diverse range of individuals into a vibrant continuity of self-discovery.

Small urine samples were fermented to grow plants and monitor eating habits.
The daily home routine was subject of this biopedagogic mobilisation.
Five bi-weekly workshops provided skills, props and support.
Urine fermentation was accomplished with sauerkraut brine and ensured odour control.
Workshops linked human integratively with plant wellbeing.
The urine-bred plants were grown indoors at participants' homes.
Eating patterns, body maintenance, and plant development was tracked in a Flourishing Journal.
The hortitechnical limitations spurred a strong working alliance and creative appropriations.
Biopedagogic Mobilisation
Biopedagogic mobilisation involved nutrients and oxygen supply from humans to plants.


Anthroponix is like a designed protocol with steps and sequences. It brings focus to someone who is totally clueless about the whole thing. I pick up little stuff here and there, every week I come. Weird stuff, like that plant roots need oxygen. In this moment of my life, such knowledge is something I am interested which made me coming back. The cool thing about the integrated journaling routine is that it stirs your imagination, like a lot of in this workshop. I mean, it is better to acknowledge that we are part of this life-death cycle rather than avoiding it, right? The course has triggered also a sense of wonder of what’s happening in and around us.

— Fermentation enthusiast and musician —

At the beginning, my family thinks that I am crazy. But after I show them some plants that grow successfully in the tubes, I find that their attitude has changed. I just kept trying out different seeds, until I got something to grow. Then my family could see the growing leaves and realize, it is not just an experiment about the urine alone but about actively contributing to life cycles. I think working toward such a result is important. Joining this workshop was a great opportunity for me because it was very well prepared. After the first workshop I thought to myself, this is like a model. Next time when I approach a new project, I hope to match this kind of engagement level.

— Biophilic master's student of nursing school —

This workshop is deeply personal. It connects us with our bodies. We were very carefully observing our urine testing results and thinking, ‘oh, is my body healthy or not!?’ Everybody wants to be healthy and that is a big motivation to test ourselves. What I liked most, was to witness how the other participants were excited. And to see that there are actually people in Hong Kong who are interested in fermenting their urine. That kind of blew my mind, because I thought that is impossible.

— Permaculture practitioner and bioscience educator —

The workshop’s entire concept was very revelatory. It brought about a fresh perspective, a relationship between the plants and us and our waste — also by keeping a logbook. Scientists, are very raw and rudimentary in this. Here I could see the design, very detailed and well thought out to make these connections work. Everything in this set-up seems to connect. Our body, our life, our heart, even our sleep. The course is in our house, in our washrooms and in our bedrooms.

— Waste-concerned arborist researcher and educator —

I certainly would participate again in this workshop because it influences our future world. In Hong Kong, all our existential processes seem to be really detached from nature. We cannot continue to deal with our own waste in the way that we have been doing. The course promoted critical thinking and discussion by having a group of people trying this out. I think, this is the purpose of social experiments since people never con-template the consequences when they use the toilet.

— Hortophilic social worker —