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BUTT: A Proposal for a Zine

No one wants to think about shit and the act of shitting. When we go, we want it out of sight and out mind as fast as we can quickly flush, for to linger longer than is socially acceptable could be a sign of an atavistic pathology. However, should an alien happen to drop by and see how much energy, time and resources we spend just on our sewers, it might think we are absolutely obsessed with our excrement. It would be right, of course.

We propose, then, a zine about this all too important biological process. Provisionally titled BUTT, it will collect any and all investigations into the myriad ways scatology is spatialized. Many will keep on regurgitating promotional materials like those automatically archived on dezeen but not BUTT. Everyone will talk about Daniel Libeskind but not BUTT. It's the contrarian preposition.

Coverage, then, will likely include ancient Roman sewers, Victorian public loos, modern pay toilets, the zero gravity toilet of the International Space Station, boutique pissoirs, big event porta-potties, battlefield latrines, methane farms, Appalachian heritage outhouses, Mexican sewer divers, and public transportation powered by poo.

Any proposal that sets out to rethink urban sewer systems, regardless of quality, will always be a featured content, and realized projects that address the sanitation needs of the other 90% will be automatically accepted for publication.

Published as well would be field reports from guided tours of municipal wastewater treatment plants, for instance, the world's largest located right on the periphery of Chicago, and also from illegal urban explorations of subterranean drainscapes.

A lucky freelancer would be sent off to Dubai to see if the beaches around the fourty-three-star Burj Al Arab hotel are still noxious with illegally dumped human waste. He'll probably write that it's actually clean but only because there aren't much sewage around to be spilt, as everyone has left. If the miniscule budget allows, another freelancer would be assigned to get an update on Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic and the Gaza Sewage Flood of 2007.

Interspersed throughout each issue would be engineering illustrations of sewer tunnels that immediately call to mind certain anatomical drawings by Jean-Jacques Lequeu.

How about self-portraits, preferably of architecture students, taken inside the bathrooms of post-Bilbao museums?

Shit. From Every Angle.

It'll be the infrastructural porn rag for the hipster design crowd, always mistakenly shelved in the fetish section, along with the German scheiße bestsellers, of your nearest independent bookstore.


  • Anonymous
  • February 22, 2009 at 8:53:00 AM CST
  • As much as I enjoy the sexualized imagery of men, I've got to pull the gender card here and say: "Women shit, too, you know!" If there's any form of defecation that is REALLY ignored, by culture and by architecture, it's that of the human female.

    Otherwise, yes, absolutely. Some author once wrote of the potential of taking all excrement in the cities and using it as fertilizing manure for urban gardens. A dear friend of mine actually has converted his toilet into a compost system. The possibilities are endless, nearly all of which are far more resourceful and less wasteful than what we've got currently.

    And Freud would just say it's a byproduct (no pun intended) of our repression of our animal selves and our sexuality. Which I would subscribe to, to a certain extent, as well.

    Oh architecture. Reintegrate yourself into the wild. This hyper-cultured business is getting old.

  • Anonymous
  • February 23, 2009 at 4:51:00 AM CST
  • 1. I recently got an email in which my friend says "I have been doing a lot of research on a prototype Living Machine system I am almost done designing. It's a system of mini ecosystems that work together to clean your waste into food and clean water, while producing methane gas to power a generator, and an indoor garden. I can clean a bucket of shit and piss to a level as pure as bottled water with no electricity, but only in small amounts in a 3 month cycle. So it's possible but... still have to figure out a few things... I need to figure out how the biogas collector can maintain pressure while adding new sewage... without an electric pump...."
    which sounds pretty gross but also pretty amazing.
    p.s. 2. uhnm, actualllly- my ex told me that women actually ONLY poop Disney characters.

  • Star Larvae
  • February 25, 2009 at 1:54:00 PM CST
  • I'm thinking about Spinal Tap lyrics. Can you guess? "Talk about mudflaps . . . ." etc.

    Anyway, don't overlook this topic's underappreciated dimension of job creation, as explained at

  • Alexander Trevi
  • February 25, 2009 at 3:27:00 PM CST
  • Many things also did not escape my attention.

  • Anonymous
  • February 27, 2009 at 10:38:00 AM CST
  • I opened up the paper this morning, saw this, and thought of this post.

  • Anonymous
  • March 2, 2009 at 7:48:00 PM CST
  • To all who are wondering why the graphic looks like a collage of covers of a homosexual magazine - IT IS a collage of covers of a homosexual magazine. BUTT is a well known (at least here on the west coast) alternative gay 'zine. It's sold in the magazine section of my local bookstore. So you see, BUTT really isn't that original of a name.

  • Anonymous
  • March 4, 2009 at 11:04:00 PM CST
  • I think BUTT is a poor name for your proposed Zine. BUTTS do a lot more than shit, in fact they serve a myriad of purposes from the anatomical to the sexual to the aesthetic.

    Call a spade a spade. What you're really talking about is SHIT.

  • Anonymous
  • March 25, 2009 at 9:55:00 AM CDT
  • This is the worst post I've seen on this blog . . . how disappointing.

  • Anonymous
  • April 15, 2009 at 9:37:00 AM CDT
  • SHIT....Im sold on that title. SEWER, might be better.

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