Totems to Trash

liisasilander | Fri May 24, 2019

In a spring Architecture studio called Trash, Professor Gabriel Feld invited students to consider the long history of humans generating disposable stuff—dating back to Monte Testaccio, which, as he puts it, was “nothing but a gigantic pile of garbage from imperial times—big enough to rival the legendary hills of Rome!” 

Since our tendency to produce ever more trash hasn’t diminished in millennia, Feld prompted students to consider: “What’s in it for us architects?” 


In mid May those participating in the studio produced an interesting installation in RISD’s Market Square as the last of four group projects during the semester. 

The primary materials in the totems to trash included discarded commercial fishing nets from the port town of Galilee, RI filled to bulging with thousands of plastic bottles. 


Leading up to the final project, students combined research, design and construction in exploring questions about the possibilities of trash from the perspective of architecture.