Philips Microbe House 5Imagine an apartment where kitchen waste provides electricity, your interactive bathroom mirror helps prevent disease, and mushrooms in your composter devour plastic bags.

If you call yourself a twenty-first century design student, you should be studying this.

To be sure, this triumph of closed-loop design would fit better in a Manhattan apartment than in a yurt in Aroostock County. But it’s still an elegant example of both conceptual and visual design. The Microbial Home even echoes the new media principle of eliminating the middleman: recycling does away with garbage collectors and landfills, preventative medicine cuts out pharmaceutical companies, and so forth.

Who knew Philips was staffed with hip Domus types?

[Link] (Via Bruce Sterling)

The Microbial Home

The Microbial Home is viewed as a cyclical biological machine where wastes like sewage, effluent, garbage, wastewater are filtered, processed and recycled to be used as inputs for the various home functions. The project includes various aspects like a Bio Digester Island and Larder in the kitchen, Urban Beehive, Bio-light, Apothecary, Filtering Squatting Toilet and Paternoster Plastic Waste Up-cycler….

Central hub in the Microbial Home system.

Philips Microbe House 3Consists of a methane digester, which converts bathroom waste solids and vegetable trimmings into methane gas that is used to power a series of functions in the home.

The hub is designed as a repositionable kitchen island, including a chopping surface with vegetable waste grinder, a gas cooking range, a glass tank that shows energy reserves and glass elements showing pressure, volume and readiness of compost sludge.

Materials used in the design are copper, cast iron, glass and bamboo.

‘Bio-gas’ is produced by developing a culture of suitable bacteria living on organic waste material from the home.

The gas from the methane digester is fed to a cooking range and gas mantle lights.

Water pipes are preheated by the digester and channeled to other components.

The digester needs a constant supply of waste material and water.

The dehydrated sludge residue from the digester can be safely removed and used as compost.


The larder is a system designed to keep ‘living food’ fresh, by using natural processes (as opposed to dead food in the refrigerator).

The larder consists of an evaporative cooler and vegetable storage system built into a dining table.

Twin-walled terra cotta evaporative cooler is at its center, the compartments and chambers vary in wall thicknesses and volumes, and are designed to keep different types of food at different optimal temperatures.

The outer surface of the cooler is warmed by hot water pipes, which have been pre-heated by the methane digester in the Microbial Home system.

Above the table is a ceramic garden and larder where vegetable groups are grown and stored on the basis of their symbiotic chemistry.

The table is made from reclaimed wood, supported by a cast iron structure that consists of water and gas pipes….


A concept for home-centered health monitoring and diagnosis, with the focus on early warning and prevention of disease.

Analytical functions are designed into the bathroom, where cutting-edge technology analyzes your body constantly and non-invasively, looking for trends in your health, symptoms of wellness and disease, giving advice and warnings where necessary.

Sensors behind the bathroom mirror that observe the condition of your skin, eyes and retina.

Breath falling on the mirror is analyzed for chemicals than indicate gum disease, tooth decay, dietary problems, alcohol and drug misuse.

Brushing your teeth can reveal evidence contained in oral microbiota, saliva and tooth plaque.

The urine and feces that you deposit into the lavatory are analyzed.

Showering can reveal the condition of your skin (including its microbiota population), hair and sweat.

Evidence collected from these multiple sources will be integrated and analyzed. An intelligent wall-mirror-screen can project back at you a bodily health map, highlighting areas where changes are occurring or attention is needed and suggesting solutions.

Filtering Squatting Toilet

Philips Microbe House 14A waste separating squatting toilet that filters effluent while channeling excreta to a methane digester in the Microbial Home system.

The filter array, comprised of charcoal, sand and ceramic filters, supports a range of plants to clean effluent.

The flush mechanism is based on the 1 litre flush toilet technique developed by the Sulabh Foundation in India.

Paternoster Plastic Waste Up-cycler

A concept for a domestic plastic waste up-cycler that uses mycelium to break down plastic packaging waste.

The paternoster waste up-cycler concept utilizes the properties of fungi that have powerful enzymes and decomposing power.

A mycelium attached to plastic, would have the ability to decompose and metabolize the plastic.

In this concept the plastics are ground into small chips and mixed with a fungal starter culture in a glass canister, which is slotted into a compartment of the ‘paternoster’ system.

A hand-cranked conveyor moves the canisters along a circuit within a dark cavity. Each week plastic grounds are mixed with mycelium.

It takes several weeks to break down the plastic or other waste material.

At late stages in the cycle the contents are exposed to daylight (via an aperture) and air allowing the mycelium to sprout delicious mushroom fruit, ready to eat. The decomposing waste can be molded into shapes.

The paternoster is made out of plywood and copper, and uses off the shelf bottles and containment canisters.

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