The Dry Toilet project (2003) was the result of a six-month stay in Caracas, during which time the Israeli architect Liyat Esakov and Marjetica Potrc researched the informal city under the auspices of the Caracas Case Project. A dry, ecologically safe toilet was built on the upper part of La Vega barrio, a district in the city without access to the municipal water grid. The project attempts to rethink the relationship between infrastructure and architecture in real-life urban practice in a city where about half the population receives water from municipal authorities no more than two days a week.
Barrio buildings are self-initiated and self-upgrading structures that function on a small scale. I still wonder why no one had previously thought to apply their strategies- their tropicalism, their nonlinear logic-on a city-wide scale. For Liyat and me, it was extremely important that Hidrocapital, the municipal water company, supported our Dry Toilet project. It made sense in a city where reservoirs were quickly losing water. For the La Vega community, the project provided a long-term sustainable solution for the problem of waste water, radically reducing the community’s water consumption. Houses collapse in the barrios not only because of the torrential tropical rains, but also because of leaking sewage. At one point Hidrocapital envisioned building full-scale models of the Dry Toilet in every municipality as an educational endeavor.The same cooperative of the urban farm in the middle of the formal city considered erecting a Dry Toilet on its premises, but eventually decided against it out of a fear of controversy; the Dry Toilet might be seen as another invasion in the formal city simply because it can function on its own, without any connection to the municipal utility grid of the modernist city.
Courtesy of Liyat Esakov and Marjetica Potrc
Supported by La Vega community, Caracas;
Caracas Case Project and Federal Cultural Foundation of Germany;
Ministry of Environment, Venezuela