Transparent Trash: The Habituation of a Recycling and Incineration Facility

Student | Taylor McConville, David Tucker
Faculty | Stephanie Bayard
School of Architecture | Graduate Architect and Urban Planning

Embracing the industrial nature of the machine, this project creates a language of layering through a series of linear extrusions which combines an incineration and recycling facility with a collegiate greenhouse. Each extrusion ranges in scale from that of large machinery to that of a human. In order to elucidate such a dirty process, public circulation is woven throughout the building so one must confront and reassess their wasteful habits. A range of transparencies hides and reveals the exquisite nature of waste and appeals to one’s sense of discovery. The resulting spaces strive to create a community hub that provides a variety of educational opportunities and begins to habituate infrastructure.

Sectional Chunk Model, Recycling and Incineration Facility, Bronx, NY
A section cut through the paralleled recycling and waste holding machines and the public space carved between them.

Public circulation weaves between the machinery allowing inhabitants to view the intricate processes. Primary building materials include recycled concrete, recycled glass, structural steel, and Corten metal panels. These materials were chosen because, while helping to lower the carbon footprint, they celebrate the industrial nature of the project. A secondary metal skin along the Eastern façade helps control the amount of light entering the space. Since these processes generate an abundance of excess heat, it is imperative to keep these spaces cooled and shaded. This heat is also captured and repurposed to generate electricity which powers the entire building. Leftover electricity can be sold back to the grid.

Framing Trash, Recycling and Incineration Facility, Bronx, NY
An elevated hallway provides a sneak peak into the monumental mountains of trash being fed into the incinerator.

Public circulation runs parallel to the waste holding area, offering a glimpse into the reality of waste quantities. A perforated Corten skin serves as a shading system, while simultaneously allowing for plant growth and transformation into a natural green wall. Domed skylights bring light in from above while cylindrical floor apertures offer telescopic views to create a visual connection as the trucks move below. This is an important moment in the project that highlights the complex layering of systems, primarily the layering of material systems, the panels, the iron framing, the glass, the concrete, etc.

East-West Section through Waste Holding & Recycling, Recycling & Incineration Facility, Bronx, NY

The recycling machinery is lifted off the ground to create public space underneath. Two pathways appear between the recycling machinery and along the edge of the waste holding area, offering views into both processes. A series of green roofs on top allow additional circulation above while also looking in on the recycling process. It is important that visitors are continuously confronting their trash and recyclables.

North-South Section through Greenhouse, Tipping Floor & Incinerator, Recycling & Incineration Facility, Bronx, NY

This longitudinal section reveals the linear incineration process as trash moves from the tipping hall to the waste holder and then deposited into the various machinery. This section also provides a glimpse into the greenhouse space located above the two tipping halls. The tectonic scale is larger on the North end of the site and gradually steps down towards the South until fading into the landscape.

East-West Section through Tipping Hall & Recycling, Recycling & Incineration Facility, Bronx, NY

Careful attention was paid to acknowledging the urban scale and establishing a connection with the existing context. A building of this scale, which blocks prime waterfront views, is unusual for the University Heights neighborhood. To compromise, the project provides opportunities for community amenities such as ample access to public transportation and a collegiate greenhouse and laboratory for utilization by Bronx Community College.

East-West Section through Tipping Hall & Recycling, Recycling & Incineration Facility, Bronx, NY

This project embraces the linearity of both industrial programs through a series of layered extrusions. Each extrusion ranges in scale from that of large machinery to that of a person. While the reality of the waste is hidden by a seemingly impenetrable facade, the processes become transparent once inside the building. The resulting spaces strive to create a community hub that provides a variety of transportation and educational opportunities.