Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2019


Medellin city, waste collector, optimized collection technique, urban tool, structure mutation






This thesis critiques the city of Medellin through the scope of an informal waste collector. This research defines a waste collector as a person who resides within informal settlements and relies on disposed belongs of others as exchange for income. Their act of informal waste collection often occurs in residential communities. The subjects, informal waste collectors, are traced in their everyday routes and urban experiences; their actions, means, and methods are then quantified in order to determine an algorithm for an optimized collection technique and performance. This critique reveals the obstacles that waste collectors face in transportation and storage to and from the formal residential zones, city center, and informal settlements. Medellin lacks design in user specificity, as shown by its lack of efficiency, safety, and comfort geared towards the informal waste collector.

The thesis proposes a design intervention in the form of a public program positioned as an urban tool, effective at multiple scales. This intervention is an exoskeletal apparatus. When attached to a backpack, this apparatus optimizes monetary collection and provides physical comfort and safety for informal waste collectors. The apparatus is designed to be adjustable and to allow for a mutation of the structure via growth and optimization. By using the body as site and the city as vessel, the physical backpack apparatus will be distributed at shelters located throughout informal residential neighborhoods. In turn, this creates a network of tangible resources and gives spatial agency to the urban phenomenon of waste collection. The design predicts how informal waste collectors can navigate the city with calculated spatial elements, designed to conform to the constraints of the body and urban elements specific to Medellin. The subject of informal waste collectors, object of the apparatus, informal neighborhood, city center, and their commensal relationships are compared through existing conditions and a designed alternative.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisor:

Abingo Wu


Local Input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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