Neighborhood collector

Placed at the crossroads of trash collectors routes, the equipment relies on relations of exchange and solidarity in its area of proximity. Its presence reveals a marginal economy of survival where deals remain unregulated and informal, prone to both abuse and proliferation. As a representation of peripheral activities that occur in the city, it finds a middle ground between conflict and cooperation by inserting itself in a preexisting logic of interaction and local organization of human coexistence in present Bucharest.

Starting from a previous study of trash collectors in the city, the prototype gathers resources that are out of use in neighborhood households but still hold material value through reuse and recycling, further distributing them to other people in need along the collector’s routes. Exchange is unmediated. Either bringing or taking is based on individual options. Although starting as a response to the growing informal economy of waste in the city – based on a collection of plastic bottles, metallic cans, and paper – its current uses are more diverse and relate to practices of charity – food, clothing, footwear – which directly address poverty at a local scale.

The yellow metallic structure uses plastic crates and hangers for gathering unused material has a bench and a table for resting, a clock for checking when collectors arrive each day and a weighting machine for verifying the accumulated quantity before going to a trash center.

Although unauthorized, the prototype creates a space where solidarity and survival exchanges can occur thus establishing different shades of legitimacy within the neighborhood regarding poverty, available resources and the occupation of the public space. The prototype has already found a person who takes care of it, called Curcanul, a half-homeless half-neighbor who lives in a house nearby. He periodically cleans the place and mediates some of the exchanges.

Phase: Completed

Funding: Chamber of Romanian Architects

Location: Sfântul Constantin Street, Bucharest, Romania

* “Visions and Research Award” at the Bucharest Architecture Annual


April 2015