E-fill — Architecture Competition by UNI.xyz

2022 ‘E-fill’ — Architecture Design Competition Launched by UNI to eWaste recycling & skill development center design competition

Fig: 1 — Growth of excess variety of electronic waste (Credits-Marvin Meyer)

Technological waste

People enjoy what technology brings, surfing the Internet on their smartphones or tablets and watching high-definition movies on their televisions at home. The convenience and efficiency of technology have led to an increase in demand for our daily as well as innovative gadgets. The IT industry and our demands form an important sector that constitutes the growth of countries and the global economy.

With the rapid increase in demand, the production of newer and smarter devices is increasing. More gadgets are produced worldwide and thus more resources are used. Hence, this fast growth of computing, information, and communication equipment is contributing to the ever-increasing production of electronic waste (e-waste).

E-waste comprises electronic products that are unwanted, not working, and nearing or at the end of their life. Devices and equipment destined for refurbishment, reuse, resale, salvage recycling through material recovery, or disposal are also considered e-waste. The total amount of e-waste used each year grows by 2.5 million tonnes.

Fig: 2 –Increasing e-waste every year (Credits- Merwin Belkeddar)

Environmental impact

Broken phones, overused laptops, radios, toys, — are likely to join a growing mountain of e-waste after use. The trends and changes in society demand efficient devices for work as well as homes which directly contributed to E-waste.

Current e-waste encompasses a complex flow of e-waste in terms of a variety of devices. The reason is that the number of appliances entering the market every year is increasing in developed as well as developing countries.

This higher growth pattern is not only influenced by the need but also by changes in technology, marketing, and design.

The world generated 53.6 million tonnes of waste alone in 2019 and by 2030 the global total is likely to swell to 74.7 million tonnes.

These numbers make it the world’s fastest-growing waste, fuelled mainly by people buying electronic products with shorter life cycles and fewer options for repair.

Fig: 3 — E-waste disposal in Africa (Credits-Henry Nicholls)

E-waste management

This diverse waste generated due to the advancement of technology may have significant impacts on the environment and the public. Due to strict environmental laws in e-waste dumping, developed countries export waste to poor or developing countries which are loose on environmental laws and have low literacy/awareness. Electronic waste has toxic materials which can cause health hazards and affect the nearby land by seeping toxic materials into the groundwater.

The disposal and treatment of such waste are crucial, but due to lack of facilities and capital, it’s becoming a serious environmental and health issue. Whereas technology is helping us improve our lifestyles, the demand is outpacing our capacity to dispose of it safely.

While developed countries are still a bit away from this crisis, the impact on countries that carry this waste is harsh. Since such regions lack awareness of recycling and disposal, can we provide a solution that incorporates the existing e-waste?

Fig: 4 — States of disassembly that would manage our e-waste stream -Conceptual model (Credits- Mason White)

Brief of the competition

With the fast pace of technology, development, accessibility, and affordability tons of valuable e-waste is generated from both urban and rural areas. Electronic wastes are dumped into landfills in developing countries which causes contamination. The electronic, metallic wastes contain over 50 rare earth elements, non-ferrous and ferrous metals. It contains precious resources, for instance, fiber optic cables obtain enormous amounts of silicon. The assembly and source of these wastes are originally extracted from the earth itself. Through architecture and design thinking can we do something that reduces the harmful qualities of e-wastes? Can a systematic and creative approach towards these waste products create more awareness and improve the overall landscape?

Brief: Design a Recycle and skill development center for e-waste management and awareness.

Design a center that has spaces to:

  1. (systematically manage waste,
  2. workshops that teach and promote a better sense of handling and use of these products.
Fig: 5 — An e-waste worker sitting on a landfill (Credits-Andrew Mcconnell)

Electronic waste in Africa

The production of electronic waste in Africa has reached worrying proportions due to the urbanization and digitalization of African cities.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, more than 50 million tons of waste electronics are produced each year, and in Western countries, only 25 percent of e-waste gets recycled.

In recent years of recycling the result has been unregulated shipping containers marked “donations’’ going to developing and poor countries as packed e-waste.

Africa is now the country with the biggest dumping sites of e-waste. Global E-waste monitor issued an urgent call in 2020 for all African leaders to take action on this issue.

The action for proper recycling and treatment needs to be taken asap, as it’s causing the communities around the dumpsites serious health hazards and is also degrading the quality of land and air.

Design objectives

The participants are expected to design a recycling and skill development center on the given site that resonates with the aim of e-waste management, skill development and to create awareness of e-waste. The design objectives are as follows:

  • Research and investigation: Research the methods, techniques, and properties of e-waste for creating spaces of healthy disposal and to have a better sense of handling it.
  • Celebrate and learn: Highlight and introduce the possibilities and limitations of e-waste as products made from multiple elements instead of just scrapes.
  • Awareness/Promotion: Sensitize the visitors by promoting the positive aspects of reusing e-waste through design.


Fig: 4 — Site image
  • Area: 7776 sqm
  • Height Restriction: 12 meters
  • Ground Coverage: 50%
  • Maximum FAR: 1
  • Setbacks as per CAD plan
  • Coordinates: Accra, Ghana

On the outskirts of Accra, Ghana lies the Agbogbloshie slum — one of the world’s biggest electronics-waste dumps. Amid burning plastic and abandoned hard drivers, monitors, motherboards, and rampant crime it is called “Sodom and Gomorrah” (cities with sin and pain).

Agbogbloshie comprises migrants from rural parts of Ghana, where living conditions are growing worse. These migrants manage their livelihoods by collecting scraps and parts from the e-waste landfills. Infected wounds, chronic nausea, stomach ulcers, and burns are some common alignments seen in these workers brought by the dangerous working conditions and toxic air.

The site is located near the Agbogbloshie e-waste dump. It is a vacant plot near a sports pitch that is easily accessible to all, making it a perfect site to manage e-waste and create a skill center.

Program outline

The following programmatic outline is the point to begin your design at. You can add more functions and activities in relevance or modify the below design program.

  • Spaces for waste sorting and recycling unit 30%
  1. Reuse/ Recycle: Waste used by the ward & Waste that can be compressed and cold, recycling plant (The plant in all will have a capacity of 1 Ton per day and will require a minimum of 500 square meter area) The plant includes various processes of disassembly, large & small size material reduction, screening, and magnetic separation and filtration of toxic metals & nonmetals (these processes have to be demarcated in the design in accordance to space utilization as they are managed by people), Administration offices and utility spaces.
  2. Organic waste: Sent to the compost and fed to pigs (a common practice) or leachate treatment.
  • Spaces for re-selling unit 20%
  1. Shops and flea market: Space to sell the recycled as well-repurposed things and to bring awareness about the amount of waste produced.
  2. Barter stops: Space to exchange discarded products for money or repurposed things.
  3. Drop off: Space to donate old or discarded items.
  • Spaces of learning and skill development 25%: Administration, Learning area, repair and refurbish workshops/Makerspace, Seminar halls, retail store
  • Spaces of recreation and landscape 15%: Park, Cafeteria, Seating areas
  • Services 10%: Toilets, Utility, and maintenance, Storage: The participants should follow this outline and are free to add their own spaces in these parameters. The above space percentage can be divided and used freely as per the participant’s design.

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: E-fill | Industrial Building Architecture Competition on UNI | About

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Originally published at https://uni.xyz.



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