Dencity 2015: Special Mention

YouPot PooPot

Entry by: David Heymann


YOUPOT POOPOT is a localised, autonomous, site specific response aimed at redeeming the significant crisis of defecation points in the Dharavi pottery district of Kumbharwada, India. Kumbharwada is a dense pottery community in Indias largest informal settlement, Dharavi. This project takes the issue of defecation and utilises it as a positive resource through which, an array of strategies use the simple idea of the pot as a place of defecation. A current problem is transformed into a valuable asset for people, their health/ livelihoods and the environment.

The Concept

If you had no where to go… what if, all you needed was a pot? Whether you are a woman in need of a place to defecate, or a potter without fuel, YOUPOT POOPOT is an autonomous sanitation system, that not only positively reclaims the landscape, but redeems the lives and livelihoods of Kumbhawadian´s by enhancing poopot potential. Overtime, YOUPOT POOPOT can create a sustainable sanitation system that can grow and develop with the expanding community networks, cultivating further redeemed landscapes, and providing people with a beneficial points of defecation as an autonomous, localised sanitation system that will revise the toilet, recalim the landscape and redeem the lives of millions of kumbharwadians one pot at a time.

This project stems from a much greater body research, which sought to find a solution to the sanitation crisis in the worlds informal settlements, and later was refined to localised communities in Dharavi (India´s largest informal settlement in Mumbai.) The overall global situation sees 2.6 billion people worldwide (1) facing inadequate access to a toilet and proper sanitation, whilst in Dharavi, for the estimated 600-1 million (1) people, there is just 1 toilet per 1440 citizens (2). This is an endemic problem world wide, whereby a lack of facilities, proper education, and localised solutions, sees people defecating directly in the street as a common practice.

The western paradigm of an infrastructure rich sewerage sanitation system does not, and cannot physically translate to the context of informal settlements such as Dharavi. This situation is not new, and whilst many overarching plans to remedy this crisis have been developed, their top down, plan based approach, proves ineffective in creating formidable outcomes that address the local needs and contexts of people and place.

The research phase of this project was initially aimed at a global scale, however this proved ineffective and impossible to providing any kind of realistic solution. The research field was narrowed to India, but even at that scale, solutions were still generalist and encompassed in top down ideology.

As such, this project stems from broader design ideation work looking at three key test communities (Nagars) in Dharavi. Their people, local resources and self-organizing autonomous sanitation systems that can be used as positive outputs to helping resolve the sanitation crisis. These nagars included:

Koliwada ( Dharavi’s oldest fishing nagar) where research was made into how waste can be converted into composting floating gardens and other means, utilising the canal system to better improve the polluted waterways.

At Compound 13, (Dharavi’s main recycling hub) investigations sought to take excess materials and utilise them as roof top garden defecation zones, as well as using elevated water pipeline to create a defecation high line drop toilet for the many workers.

YOUPOT POOPOT is a sanitation system designed specifically within the framework of the Dharavi settlement of Kumbharwada. This Shelter competition entry focuses solely on the solutions sought in Kumbharwada to provide an example of a highly considered, localised sanitation solution…starting with just a simple pot! Whilst based in ideation, this project takes on real and visited contexts, and aims to provide the most realistic solutions to the on the ground realities.

Kumbharwada is a tightly packed informal settlement with a large pottery industry. YOUPOT POOPOT investigates and provides redemptive solutions to the sanitation crisis by utilising the pot as the main point of defecation (POD), materialising on the benefits of a locally produced material, urban fabric and dense social networks. It not only provides a place for people to defecate, but it also creates positive outputs for the environment, employment, safety, education and health of Kumbharwadians.

This project seeks to investigate an initial phase of redemption which would be something which could grow and expand overtime utilizing the base test sites and strategies suggested. The project focuses on five key test sites which are interconnected in terms of people, resources and outputs that all use the simple conditioning of defecating in a pot, and thereafter, what potential that pot has as a resource/ the poopot potential. These five test sites are investigated and distributed based on local contexts in terms of their redemptive qualities and positioning. Whilst shown in detail on the competition boards, in short, the key test sites are:

  1. Road side PODs: looking to acheive cleaner roadsides through strategically positioned PODs at chai stalls, bus stops, etc.
  2. The potters courtyard: which takes collected pots of faeces and utilises them as fuel to create new pots to be distributed as poo pots within the nagar.
  3. Poopot local gardens: are nodal points that can expand over time. Providing key POD sites and education centres to help encourage poopot potential and growth
  4. Rooftop womans regue: uses tactical local homes as safe houses within which woman can defecate. The outputs are then used as a biogas resource to fuel the occupants home and others.
  5. The railway corridor: takes the high percentage of current defecation in this zone, and looks at reuse in urban agricultural developments through the use of collected humanure.


If we utilize on site materials (like ceramic pots) waste (from fuel to fertilizer), establish new industries (from collection to farming) and redeem landscapes (from road sides to railways) through self-organizing autonomous sanitation systems that will grow and change over time, we can make a significant difference to the lives of local communities, such as Kumbhrwada.

A functioning sanitation system that utilises the poo pot potential will help remedy soiled landscape systems whilst significantly improving the health of citizens.

About the entrant

David Heymann is a young landscape architecture professional and design researcher from the University of Melbourne. David believes in localized design, based in systems thinking which allows for communities to take ownership of solutions and prosper over time, without the inherent need of donors or outside organizations. David hopes that proposals such as YOUPOT POOPOT can gain accreditation and shift the dialogue from top down approaches to slum abolition and displacement, to one of engaged local solutions that value these settlements as highly rich commodities of knowledge, skills and above all, community. Design has nothing to do with status or wealth. We are all designers. We are all critical thinkers. We all have ideas… However, the way in which we chose to foster these skills sets us apart as individual designers. Think global, act local, and perhaps we will start to see a change in the world…one pot at a time.