Pod #002, Parasite Heating Unit
- a composting dwelling

Überleben, Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt, Berlin, Germany, 2011
- and on-going at the harbor of Copnhagen, Denmark

Parasite Heating Unit was be placed on top of a light intake at the roofgarden of HKW, connecting the systems. Here it is parasiting on the heat HKW produces, heat that, as heat always does, goes upwards. The light intake of HKW is duplicated and the replica placed on the roof of the parasiting dwelling. In this way the parasite will not disturb the functioning of its host. In addition to the heat the parasite will take from HKW, more heat will be produced by composting material in the walls of parasite. The material for the compost will come from the kitchens at HKW.

HKW window

The duplicated version of the light in-take

One of the nine diagams, showing the compost system and heat supply

Pod #002, Parasite Heating Unit is partly inspired by Dan Peterman’s “Chicago Compost Shelter” (1988) (an VW van buried with compost) and partly by the Learning Site Pod # 001 (made for the “Weather Report - Art and Climate Changes” curated by Lucy Lippard, 2007) from which it takes its form.

The Pod #002, Parasite Heating Unit will be a modular, lightweight construction. The form of the The Pod #002, Parasite Heating Unit will be constructed using aluminum (energy use for the secondlife production for the amount of aluminium: 337kWh). Some of the walls will be hollow, and fitted with compost apparatus. These walls will have an “compost in-take”, where the compost will be added, and an “compost out-take” were excess liquid and new soil will be deposited.
Compositing will take place in the walls and worms will help with this process. A window will be placed inside the Pod #002 so that visitors can see the compositing process. The heat inside a composting pile can be around 50-60C. To ensure the interior heat of the Pod is effectively distributed, air-tubes will run through the compost units. A ventilator will move the warm air through the connecting tubes in the floor. A solar panel on the exterior of the Pod will produce energy for the ventilator. The “compost out-take” will be placed at the bottom of the walls. Pod #002, will be capable of producing very rich composited soil and liquid slurry that can be used as fertilizer.

The Pod #002, Parasite Heating Unit will be covered with graphic images and some text relating to the issues of heat, sustainability and ecology, along with images explaining how the compositing system works.


For Parasite Heating Unit this poster was made, including the words:

One thing is not in doubt: if we do nothing, we are faced with increasing chaos. We know something about chaos. We live it in a small way already. But what do we know about sustainability? Is sustainable the same as ecological, or natural? Is a sustainable thing, a thing that lasts a long time, or is it something that fits into a natural order? Is a natural order sustainable? We are natural, but we die. Are we sustainable?
When we make things sustainable, aren’t we often defying nature and the natural constraints of eco-systems? Are some things sustainable, but bad for the environment? Market economists argue that creative destruction, the chaos of capitalism, is natural. Is capitalism natural? Is natural the same as an eco-system? Is a natural order a good thing? Are our cities natural? Did they develop organically? Or were they planned? Are unplanned cities more natural, more organic? Which is more sustainable? Is dictatorship good because it is sustainable? Is democracy bad because it is chaotic? Which is more ecological? So many questions.

Our thinking about sustainability seems chaotic. Is that because our lives are already chaotic? Or do we seek chaos? We often value art because it disrupts settled patterns of thought. The concept of progress is also closer to chaos than to sustainability. Does the chaos we admire in culture help to undermine our future? Is future sustainability a dystopia – the continuation of current chaos – or a utopia – the resolution of chaos? So many questions.

How will our future look? Will we like it? We will do our best.

The exhibition concerns “climate change and the global environmental crisis”, and sustainability is therefore a key issue. However, in contrast to sustainability, contemporary art is dominated by the need to continually define and discover the new - the very enemy of sustainability. Given this problem, Pod # 002, Parasite Heating Unit has been conceived such that it will have a sustainable life after the festival. It is added to floating units Learning Site has been working with for some time that deal with issues relating to cultivation, seeds, creating land, green houses for city farming, passive heating, solar energy, access to water, water harvesting and micro living spaces.

Pod #002, Parasite Heating Unit docking with N55 SPACEFRAME & Pod #001 in Copenhagen, Denmark - still in progress

Out-door stickers