It’s called the Microbial Home. Created as part of Philips’ Design Probes program to “explore far-future lifestyle scenarios,” it is a vision for a collection of household appliances and fixtures that all work together in an “integrated cyclical ecosystem.”
The Microbial Home takes kitchen composting to its extreme, with a closed-loop system in which the waste products from one process are used as energy inputs for another.
The central hub is a “bio-digester island” which has a cutting surface, a gas range, and a bio-digester. Bacteria in the bio-digester feed on organic waste such as vegetable trimmings to produce a methane gas that powers the range and the lights and heats water. Dehydrated sludge from the digester can be used as compost.
The connected “larder” includes a suspended vegetable garden and a terra cotta evaporative cooling unit built into the table, providing an alternative to energy-intensive refrigeration. Other elements of the Microbial Home include a beehive, a light powered by bioluminescent bacteria, and yes, a squatting toilet that captures “excreta” for the methane digester. There’s even a hand-cranked contraption for recycling plastic.
Models of these concepts were shown at Piet Hein Eek gallery in Eindhoven for October’s Dutch Design Week, but it’s unlikely that we’ll actually working elements of the Microbial Home in stores anytime soon. Philips’ Probes are exercises in speculative design, intended to spark conversation and spur innovation.
The Microbial Home does serve as a nice illustration of one way we can make our homes more sustainable though. America wastes 27 percent of the food available for consumption and about half the energy we produce. A domestic bio-digester can only help.