In this video, filmed during the third Engineering Comes Home co-design workshop, participants explored in more depth implementation of the chosen idea: rainwater harvesting.
Engineering Comes Home is an innovative, EPSRC-funded research project that turns the traditional process of infrastructure design on its head.
The project starts with household needs and looks outward to design technologies and infrastructure. It puts people and their everyday needs and desires first. It acknowledges complex patterns of resource consumption in households, arising from interactions with socio-technical systems.
Objectives of the project
Demonstrate a new paradigm for infrastructure design starting from the home, looking out towards provision systems that meet household demands.
Integrate thinking about water, energy, food, waste and data at the domestic scale to support user-led innovation and co-design of technologies and infrastructure.
Test design methods to connect homes to communities, technologies and infrastructure. This can enhance positive interactions between data, water, energy, food and waste systems.
The co-design process was carried out in three half day workshops held in the estate’s community hall and involved 19 residents (15% of the total number of households). The process was run by the research team, supported by an external facilitator, videographer and the local Tenants and Residents Association.
The tokens were printed with icons representing aspects of WEF systems, a toilet, a flower, a plug for example. Participants were invited to play with these tokens, and construct narratives attached to locations within the estate. Two examples are shown below.
The Calculator App allowed workshop participants to assess different design criteria for five scenarios:
- Food Waste
- Wormery and Food Garden
- Rainwater Collection
- Food Sharing
The calculator allowed to adjust input parameters such as volume of food consumed, quantity of wormeries or rainwater tanks on rooftops. These changed ouput quantities in realtime, such as waste generated, compost available, water collected and CO2 generated.
A further version focusing on rainwater harvesting design criteria was also developed for the third workshop.
Workshop Video Documentation
Workshop 1 - Water, Energy and Food
Workshop 1 focused on eliciting values relevant to domestic WEF resource management on the estate and on generating ideas for interventions that might fit with these values and with the material configuration of the estate.
Workshop 2 - Feasibility
The team created a shortlist of existing technologie and systems that could fit into the estate and align with the values elicited during workshop 1. The five shortlisted systems brought into workshop 2 were wormeries, food growing, food sharing, rainwater harvesting, and waste compacting. For the workshop we prepared fact sheets for each of these systems and technologies. We also developed a bespoke LCA calculator that participants could use to gauge the fit of the technology to their community and their estate.
Workshop 3 - Rainwater Harvesting
Workshop 3 aimed to get residents’ feedback on the prototype and create a detailed design for rainwater harvesting on the estate. The research team created a bespoke rainwater harvesting module for the LCA calculator which let residents explore design details such as tank size, number and location, rooftop area to be used to catch rain, position of outflows and whether or not to pressurise and pump water.
The UCL project team comprises Dr Sarah Bell, Director of the Engineering Exchange; Dr Aiduan Borrion, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering and Dr Charlotte Johnson, Research Associate in the Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources. Project partners include Dr Kat Austen and iilab, and Dr Robert Comber, Lecturer in Computer Mediated Communication based at Open Lab, Newcastle University.