Designing reflexive spaces with human waste: Communities of resourcefulness in Brussels, Berlin, and Hong Kong

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


This paper compares three interventionist eco-sanitation cases by applying a structurally extended SWOT matrix for evaluating their transformative relations and capabilities in their respective urban settings of the global north. The enablers and barriers underlying these human waste cycling communities are assessed by combining qualitative-quantitative data collection and multiform analysis. By complementing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis with the emergent framework of Ideas-Arrangement-Effects (I-A-T), the study assesses the creative potential manifested in these cases. The eco-toilet communities address unsustainable food systems by acting in concert with people, places, and microbes in a profoundly self-implicating process that stems from an oscillation between actionable immersion and perspectival detachment. This dynamic creates a reflexive conduit for counter-intuitive doing and thinking that diversifies dominant and hegemonic perspectives. The three cases, sensible to their respective settings, demonstrate how cultivating a rich, interactive context on the physical, social and psychological level is conducive to the suspense and exchange of positions and a plurality of perspectives on the world, human and nonhuman. Community acceptance and individual satisfaction with urban eco-toilets stems then from balancing this unsettling repositioning with supportive involvement, whereas disrupting bathroom routines, group debates, and agroecological experimentation makes people act in better-attuned relations with unknowable otherness.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Nov 2021
EventThe 14th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism: From dichotomies to dialogues: connecting discourses for a sustainble urbanism - Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Nov 202127 Nov 2021


ConferenceThe 14th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism
Internet address


  • Collectivised eco-sanitation
  • urban agroecological transition
  • developmental change processes
  • possibility studies
  • community enablement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies
  • Development


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