washington university spring 2008 led by mitchell joachim, phd
in the north pacific gyre there is a giant vortex of non-biodegradable trash. the eastern garbage patch consists mainly of plastic that photo-degrades into particles which are then consumed mistakenly by plankton as food. from here, the plastic enters into the food chain, with fish eating plankton and then humans eating fish. the bacteriephant, a cross between the sensitive trunk of an elephant and oil eating bacteria, is an organism that is genetically engineered to consume the aforementioned bits of plastic and digest them into safe carbon-based molecules.
a soft net-like material lined with fungus provides the habitat for the bacteriephant. resealable apertures at the base of the organism’s habitat allow trunk penetration into the garbage to consume the plastic particles. all organism habitats are connected to a mother unit providing directionality and support.
in an effort to prevent garbage from entering the ecosystem, the trash incinerator in zurich provided an opportunity to experiment with new methods of construction using trash. trash is collected at the incinerator as usual. using the diagram of an existing car crusher, a large scale 3d printer compresses non-biodegradable trash into a building unit. the support material for the units is printed using biodegradable trash. as a result, the building units behave like extruded puzzle pieces.