‘Defuturing…is an idea of a form of negotiation that assists in defining, confronting and disclosing the temporality of unsustainability.  Learning to think, hear and feel how the unsustainable defutures effectively installs a literacy, as a thinking, seeing and touching, that turns defuturing into a tool able to help create sustain-ability.’ – Fry


We are trying to sustain the unsustainable.




  1. not able to be maintained at the current rate or level.

“macroeconomic instability led to an unsustainable boom”
Defuturing, as I see it, is thus: Stealing from the future of the next generation to feed to habits of today.  We are consuming so much, and producing so much waste that we cannot reach the future that we want to see, at the current rate.  We have designed our way into this situation, we have to design our way out of it.

So what topic should I chose?  Where is the future depleting at the fastest rate; where is there no future, if we don’t do something about it?  I firstly looked at CO2 and the damage it is doing to the Earth, along with the effects it is having on the population as a whole.  I decided to design city and industrial buildings to be wrapped in an exoskeleton of CO2 absorbing material (these products do exist), and then planting CO2 absorbing greenery onto this structure to further absorb CO2  and subsequently produce Oxygen (O2).  These plants would be planted in water troughs (Hydroponics), negating the need for soil, and would be fed by rainwater harvested from the buildings gutter system.  Additionally, the human waste produced from the washrooms can be turned into fertilizer – by a simple process – and so would be mixed with the rain water, and pumped around the hydroponics system to fed nutrients to the plants.

I really liked this idea but felt that I had previously undertaken a project on CO2 and wanted to look at a separate project.  Conducting research, I kept coming back to the issue of water scarcity and the lack of clean drinking water, being one the biggest global issues, and felt that I couldn’t ignore this as a defuturing issue.

There are many products on the market that can filter water to make it safe to drink, but these cost money to produce and buy, whilst taking up the Earth’s resources and producing waste / pollutants. 20151125_101752 I really wanted to use something extremely simple or something that already existed.  Inspiration hit me when I saw an empty coke bottle on my kitchen window: one side of the bottle was in direct sunlight and was completely coated in condensation.  The few drops of water that were left in the bottom of the bottle had evaporated in the sun’s heat, and then condensed on the side of the bottle.  


Researching this, I found that condensed water is purified water, leaving behind heavy metals and pollutants during the evaporating phase.  Researching further, I found that there were a few, further techniques, that are employed when treating tainted water: filtering and UVA radiation (from the sun).  

With this science in mind, I looked at how the three water treatment methods – filter, evaporate and UVA rays – could be combined into a single construction, using low cost, or free materials, into a way of filtering dirty water into safe drinking water.  Inspired by the coke bottle on my window sill, I decided to build something from a combination of these, knowing that there are billions of these of the planet, they last for centuries and they have already been made – i.e. they will produce no further waste, and use no more resources to be used in a second life.  Taking waste, and repurposing it.  Several attempts later and a successful model was made.  First is a filter stage, using natural materials as the filter, second, the evaporating / condensation chamber and third, a bottle to allow the water to be exposed to the sun’s heat and UVA rays.  From dirty water to clean, safe, drinking water.  


The model actually works.  It filters water, evaporates and condenses and drips into a bottle to allow it be placed in the sun.  The science is sound – it’s not new science, this has been known for centuries – so there is no reason to doubt that the water isn’t clear of bacteria.  




The presentation was criticised for being too worthy and making a point that things for developing countries are very Heath Robinson; they should have the same kind of quality that we would want.  We wouldn’t accept plastic bottles, taped together for our clean water source, so why should they?  My response?  People who don’t have access to clean drinking water, don’t have the ability to purchase these things, and so rely on humanitarian aid to help, taking their independence away.  If I had no clean drinking water, and was drinking bacteria infested ‘water’, then the way things look would be last thing on my mind.  If I could make something that cost nothing, and would keep my family safe, I’d take it.

DefuturingDefuturing (1)Defuturing (2)


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