︎︎︎SARAH LUCAS 


Situated on the corner of Melbourne’s Russel and Little Bourke Streets, the system occupies what was once a popular Carpark. When it was first constructed in 965, Total House was a reflection of the City’s boom in car ownership. With the arrival of the third industrial revolution, an increase in shared transport and self-driving cars will cause the multi-storey carpark to become space for new opportunity. This is a proposition for a post carbon future.

Anaerobic Exchange aims to encourage participants to become more involved in the production of the energy they consume. Food waste is a serious issue across the world. In Australia, over 5 million tonnes of food ends up as landfill each year. This accounts for more than five percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. We can turn this around, by seeing this waste as an opportunity, as opposed to an annoyance. The system relies on food waste as its input. In return it produces energy, which is used to produce fresh produce and sustainable material. Waste is disposed via two systems, one smaller disposal box for the general public and one larger conveyor belt for commercial quantities.

The waste is pulverised and carried to the digestion plant. As you move upwards through the building, towards the digestion plant, the user comes uncomfortably close to the waste. Upright conveyor belts, either side of a central lift core, move the waste from the basement to the digestion plant. Here the waste undergoes a process called anaerobic digestion. The waste is held in a series of tanks called digestion chambers, where methane gas is produced and trapped. This gas is then stored in external tanks. When it is required the biogas is  burnt in a generator, producing electricity.

This electricity powers an urban farm, which wraps itself around the exterior and northern side of the building. ‘Shelves’ or planter boxes can be rented and tended to by local individuals, much like a community garden plot. The urban farm relies on both electricity and fertilising waste product from the digesters, to allow the produce to grow. Produce from the farm can be sold in the ground floor market area, pop up kitchens or be taken home for the grower to enjoy. Excess produce can be supplied to neighbouring restaurants in Chinatown.

Mycelium growth, from excess waste stored in the basement, can be seen clinging to the existing fabric of the carpark. As it grows, continuously, over the carbon form, the mycelium can be harvested and sold as a product on its own, or manufactured into a sustainable material. Leftover fibrous matter from the anaerobic digestion process is sanitised and then used as a substrate for the mycelium brick production process. After a series of moulding and air drying steps, the bricks are finally ‘fired’ using heat from the anaerobic digesters. This heating halts the growing process, allowing the  material to be used for construction or packaging purposes.

The system encourages interaction through incentive, convenience and discomfort. It aims to bring the community closer to the generation of the power they consume. The system makes use of primary and secondary waste products to power production, so as to reduce excess waste at every stage. Anaerobic exchange turns waste into consumables we cannot live without.
As it continues to grow, the system can begin to expand across the city, making use of the sustainable mycelium material, to create a new network of exchange hubs.