Algae Sips and Java Brews; A Digestive Food Truck
Lydia Kallipoliti & Hayley Eber with Frederick Rapp
When bodies digest, they draw out the nutrients from what has been consumed, separating it from what will be excreted as waste. Digestion is, in its most basic sense, a process of extraction, one that materially transforms the nature of whatever is ingested. While the systems that regulate it are often unable to distinguish between toxin and aliment easily or definitively, digestion is the body’s most fundamental way of sustaining health, vitality, and wellbeing.
While the waste products of organic bodies and their digestive systems are reincorporated into a wider ecological system, to continue circulating, the waste products of built artifacts don’t. In this project, we propose a mobile food cart as a digestive system that collects sewage and other forms of organic waste from the city and reprocesses it into drinkable beverages.
The stall’s versatile structure consists of three sections, each focusing on digesting- recirculating a specific substance. The first part contains an algae bioreactor, which is nourished by the drainage of growing plants, and whose biomass is turned into biofuel. The processed spirulina results in taps that offer protein beverages as nutritional superfoods. The second part grows and dries herbs, to make tea. Herbs are cultivated in hydroponic towers and nourished by coffee compost. The third part includes a pour-over coffee stall, the ambient heat of which supports the growth of the algae bioreactor, which in turn produces oxygen to reduce air pollution. Overall, the byproducts of one process are redirected as inputs for another: coffee grinds as fertilizing nutrients, water drainage from the hydroponics as input for algae growth, and biomass as biofuel.
The digestive food truck travels in the city using no electricity or plumbing; instead, it breaks down its own output and reconstitutes it to offer free drinkable liquids to those in need. Reprocessing the food and the waste of a city itself is in many ways a vast project that entails nothing short of radically rethinking what it means to build a city as such. Still, with this little roaming digestive vehicle, we imagine and explore speculative ways in which parts of the built environment may become subject to cultivation, harvest, and consumption.