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Synergy in the Ordinary

Think Like an Astronaut: Frugal Solutions for a Sustainable Future

The Unorthodox Reactor

Inspired by space technologies, cistercian monasteries and ecovillages, Synergy in the Ordinary explores frugal solutions to climate change. The designs propose circular alternatives to ordinary objects, through which the fine line between ecology and technology synergises with humanity.

Synergy in The Ordinary: Empirical Inspiration and Philosophical Concepts

Synergy in the Ordinary explores frugal solutions to climate change, whilst emphasising the fine line between ecology and technology and the consequent role of humanity. Does climate action bring us closer to nature? Or does it further the alienation of humankind by stressing Enlightenment thinking, in which the Globe is to be appropriated, used and controlled? Inspired by the frugality and circularity of space technologies, cistercian monasteries, and ecovillages, Synergy in the Ordinary explores the essence of sustainable living, and connects the imaginary with the ordinary through two nature-based solutions that challenge the idea of waste as output: human waste is converted into fertile micro-algae, plant roots have become effective filtering systems, and water has turned into a multi-functional natural resource that completes the cycle. Together, these pieces explore novel and creative ways to streamline ordinary products towards sustainability. At the core of these pieces lies the fine line between ecology and technology that remains largely overlooked within our society’s techno-solutionist mindset.

The Unorthodox Reactor

The first piece of Synergy in the Ordinary, the ‘Unorthodox Reactor’, combines space technologies with circular waste management, in order to challenge the dominant view of waste as singular output. Instead, the Unorthodox Reactor introduces a dichotomy around the concept of waste, and highlights the potential of circularity at the perceived extreme of the waste-spectrum: human faeces. Inspired by the helophyte filters and composting toilets of ecovillages, water filtering techniques present in certain Cistercian monasteries, and the microalgae potential highlighted by space exploration, the Unorthodox Reactor portrays a conventional toilet as bioreactor, and thereby transforms a former waste dump into a facilitator of life. Concretely, a biologically active environment is created that converts human waste into microalgae, the latter of which is consequently used to fertilise the soil of the natural water filter. Clean water that can be used to restore groundwater levels is the final outcome. Through this visual depiction of circularity, visitors are invited to become part of a system that merges technology with ecology, in order to present creative solutions to climate change.

Heretical Greens

The second piece of Synergy in the Ordinary, ‘Heretical Greens’, combines the decentralised water systems of monasteries and ecovillages with reverse osmosis techniques found in space technologies. Through the creation of a circular system that rests on ecological and technological elements, the simultaneous friction and collaboration between the natural and the man-made is highlighted. Inspired by the rainwater harvesting systems found in earthships, natural water filters found in Cistercian monasteries, and crop farming techniques used in the International Space Station, Heretical Greens stresses the importance of transforming the linear into the circular. Concretely, an ordinary household tool is transformed into a ‘living fridge’ , that rests on rainwater as input and clean drinking water as output - all whilst farming crops along the way. Besides being a feasible system, Heretical Greens symbolises how technology is not completely detached from nature as enemy: through the expropriation of an ordinary fridge into a futuristic and frugal system, Heretical Greens reveals the potential that lies at the intersection of technology and ecology as allies in light of climate change.

About The Circular Collective

The Circular Collective is an experimental design collective that consists of young professionals, experts and scientists with different backgrounds, including industrial design, political science, natural resource management, and philosophy. Together, we create with science and society in mind, in order to - eventually - develop sustainable and frugal solutions to the ever more pressing threats of climate change.

Heretical Greens

The Unorthodox Reactor