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It’s a bit dubious to ask architects who study how things fall apart to build over a landmark, but it wasn’t our idea...

What we build on this landmark must be 100% from waste – food and agriculture waste – and done in a way no one expects. Don’t let visitors in on this until they’re already using it, or maybe even done with it. Make sure the result is better than if not from waste. Make the user covet waste. Make the user reconsider the word waste... well... no one really covets waste. It will be a restaurant, so as architects, we have the easy part. The kitchen must convince guests that waste is worth eating.

We can conceive of our architecture like chefs. We are working the same way already – making raw, uncooked, half-baked architecture. Besides, chefs seem better at communicating strange ideas to the public – we can learn from that too...

Prototype #1 shopping list: meat smoker, bone-char grill, solar oven, agricultural fabric, 20 lb onion peel (dye), 1 lb waste turmeric (dye), 20 ft weather balloon from discarded ripstop nylon (not sure it’s possible, but Jens Risom built a chair from waste parachute straps), tethers, etc. 

Prototype #2 shopping list: 10 lb potatoes, low-voltage LEDs, 50 ft copper wire, copper slugs, galvanized steel slugs, voltage meter. Let’s see if any of this works...

WEEK 12:
Some of it works... We’re building an architecture of hot-air balloons, elevated by waste heat from the restaurant. The heat inflates the canopy, shading visitors from the sun. We’re using heat to cool guests.

WEEK 14:
It’s working enough for the client to buy in, but probably not enough for a building permit...

Now there’s a second client. They want it, but they’ll never build it. Distract them with stories about the first balloon launch in Hyde Park, about how their landmark and the first balloon in London launched the same year (1909), from the same neighborhood, and so on...

WEEK 25:
They buy in too. 

WEEK 26:
Things are heating up, but now there’s a third client. They’ll never let us do this. 

Plan B shopping list: artichoke scraps (furniture), waste teak root (carpentry), ham bone, cascara, carbonized cow skull (multiple uses), etc...

WEEKS 26–40:
Our balloon building is perfect except in the eyes of the third client – Westminster’s landmark commission. They approve the structure, but obsess over its breach of the historic rooftop datum. We’ll draw it anyway... We’ll submit it anyway... They’ll reject it anyway...

Detail, draw, fabricate, install, uninstall plan B. It’s a good p­lan B. Everyone likes it, but it’s not the project...

WEEK 52:
We have a hunch... more than a hunch. All new work must be finished in advance. It used to be enough to distinguish the built from the unbuilt and judge it all the same, but it’s much easier now to build what you want, and our task is to find a way.

*A Formlessfinder project for WastED London & Selfridges

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