Tuesday, November 18, 2008


There is something wonderful about these incinerator hot spots in Japan:
Besides not being smelly, smoky or deadly, Japan's urban incinerators are often not ugly. Indeed, many are architecturally significant and some are social hotspots.

The renowned architect Yoshio Taniguchi, designer of the expanded Museum of Modern Art in New York, also designed Hiroshima's incineration plant, an eye-catching tourist attraction that the architect has called "my museum of garbage."

Here in Tokyo, about 186,000 people a year frequent the Toshima Incineration Plant. These visitors, most of whom live in the neighborhood, come to swim and exercise in the plant's handsome and affordable fitness center.

The center was added to the incinerator complex when it was built in the late 1990s to appease neighbors appalled by the prospect of millions of tons of garbage being burned in their back yard.

Those neighbors now swim in a pool heated by burning garbage. They work out in rooms lighted by electricity generated from a steam-driven turbine linked to the furnace that burns the garbage. Surplus electricity, enough for 20,000 homes, is sold into the grid. The complex also has a health clinic for the elderly.

Ash from the incinerator is melted into a sandy slag used in asphalt, bricks and concrete.
Wash Post.

The Japanese, for reasons of geography and space, have always had to economize. There seems to be a lot that can be learnt from their new use of and relationship to waste.