The Multi-Sensory Exhibition of Trash

Site plan of Freshkills Park in Staten Island, NY

            Yale University   Fall 2017   With Sissi Guo
Once the largest landfill of New York, Freshkills is being transformed by James Corner into a recreational park. Four looming mounds of trash have been buried under landscaping in order to beautify Freshkill’s ugly past. With NYC currently generating 14 million tons of garbage each year, waste remains a pressing issue.

Instead of eradicating Freshkills’ past as a landfill, we are celebrating its history by proposing a trash museum that sorts and utilizes the recycled materials transported from the nearby Staten Island Transfer Station. Located at the center of the site, the museum houses a ferry terminal, which receives museum and park visitors. 

The museum includes a trash sorting component, whose conveyor belts can be seen inside and outside the building, as accentuated by transparency in material. Through the multi-sensory exhibition of garbage, visitors experience the sensibility of waste by seeing it, touching it, smelling it, hearing it, and even tasting (via garbage processing, post-eating).

The circulation of ferry users, museum-goers, and trash intertwine. In some areas, the three paths converge, whereas in others they are physically apart, but remain conscious of one another by visual means. Within the atrium, transparent storage for recyclables hang above the ticketing area below. The size of the storage correlates to the amount tossed into the trash: In 2013, 14% of NYC’s garbage consisted of plastic, 4.4% glass, and 3.5% metal. The proportionally sized storage connects directly into a workshop space in which artists and visitors create pieces made of the disposed materials. The direct interaction with garbage leads people to be aware of both Freshkills’ history and their own habits regarding waste.


Smell exhibit

Touch exhibit

Trash circulation is depicted in orange; human circulation is depicted in red
Trash sorting is depicted in yellow