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Of trash and other treasures, Reclaiming value in Asunción's waste Fabrizio Canessa

Three main topics were used to achieve the project: Infrastructure, Waste and the city of Asunción as a case study. It was argued, that the higher life standard, achieved through the centuries with our infrastructures, produced a lack of relation to the environmental impact caused by them. This invisibility is part of the story of modern waste: a material designed to dissappear from our minds and sight. In certain contexts, waste is more than an environmental topic: it is a social praxis, which generates all kinds of economies for informal sectors, who are a very important part of the addition of value to waste, but remain unacknowledged. When addressing the waste management from a specific place, we need to understand it deeply, since waste managements are not transferable from culture to culture. This took the research to Asunción, Paraguay, where its chain of value was deeply studied: it is a complex network between formal and informal workers, with flaws and inequalities that need urgently to be addressed. The premise of the research is that the conflict between waste and society lies on the way we hide it or showcase it. And architecture, as a discipline of the visual and spacial, can start to visualize it.

The project proposes a new infrastructure for the social empowerment, where the many independent waste pickers („recicladores“) come now together as a Cooperative, which situates itself on the border between the „high, formal city“ and the „low, informal city“, marked clearly by the Artigas Avenue. The design remembers the premise of Venturi and Scott Brown with the road-side-architecture of the „declared shed“. This kind of front-back typology is not strange to Asunción and even found on the houses of „recicladores“. The building takes this individual typology and transforms it to a collective typology: there is a formal front, giving an address on the Artigas Avenue, and an informal back, a big roof, which allows all value-adding processes for waste to happen.

If there is value on waste, there is value on the actors, processes and places behind it.

Urban Site Analysis Bañado Norte
Figure Ground Plan
Axonometric drawing with surroundings
Ground Floor
Second Upper Floor
Third Upper Floor
Axonometric Section
Fabrizio Canessa


Prof. Marc FrohnProfessur Raum und Entwerfen


Prof. Dr. Joaquín Medina WarmburgProfessur Bau- und Architekturgeschichte
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