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City of Blubber

Hong Kong


Type: Speculative Urban Infrastructure

**selected for the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture (Hong Kong)**

Project Text

City of Blubber is a project that visualizes a new urban terrain generated from the organic waste of Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s waste stream is heavily saturated with food waste as about “40% of the food in the city goes uneaten, creating around 3,500 tons of unwanted food each day.” All of this organic waste is sent to the landfills, which are expected to reach capacity by 2018. The City of Blubber envisions a solution centered on a new infrastructural element: the biorefinery.  Each city block is outfitted with a biorefinery whereby an upstream processing occurs to break down organic waste and transform it into a succinic acid using fungi— producing a malleable, plastic material called Blubber. This project presents a speculative Hong Kong—imagined as a fatty tissue that swells according to waste accumulation patterns. The more waste, the more blubber.  It is a vision of a city that puts its waste to work as a thermo regulator.

The City of Blubber exists on top of the modern city of Hong Kong. The dense city has grown accustomed to producing over 6 million tons of waste each year and has developed no sustainable plan for reducing or extracting waste production. This project is an investigation of an alternate future for Hong Kong’s waste. Can the waste trucked to landfills be transformed into a new materiality and become a productive component of urban metabolism? This is the fatty fantasy of the City of Blubber: a visceral scape, atop the towers of modernity.  


Exhibited at 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture (Hong Kong) and at University of Virginia's School of Architecture.


Research Narrative:

Seth McDowell

Design and Visualization:

Seth McDowell

HK Chief Curator:

Colin Fournier


Photography and Visualizations:

©mcdowellespinosa architects

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