Our cities are full of invisible infrastructures. In this text they are made visible in a series of illustrations.
Tin Phan, Arkitekturstudent AHO, Nettredaksjon KOTE
In Autumn 2013 the course “Recycling Oslo” at AHO initiated mapping assignements of Oslo. My collaborator Phittawat Chittapraneerat and I delved into infrastructures the GIS maps could not provide, some of the most important functions of our infrastructure, water distribution, sewers and garbage disposal. Scouring the internet, receiving data from Renovasjonsetaten, Vann- og Avløpsetaten, we came up with 5 different mappings, in which 3 of them I am allowed to publish due to national security.
CLEAN WATER DISTRIBUTION
The water supply in Oslo mainly derives from large systems of reservoirs north of Oslo municipality. In the end it all culminates in Maridalsvannet, Oset facility, which is the main source of Oslo. Skullerud provides the southern parts of Oslo because the Oset is insufficient. The smaller facilities such as Langlia and Alunsjøen seems insignificant by the percentage they provide, but is actually essential.
It is a matter of physics why there actually exists 3 facilities on the northern Marka border. Water distribution works by letting water flow downwards to the inhabitants. The terrain in Oslo is shaped as a bowl and the outskirts is divided by valleys. As it has proved too hard to pump water to the west and east of Oset, it was of great importance to establish smaller facilities in order to maintain a natural development in those areas.
WASTE TO ENERGY CYCLE
At the turn of the decade Oslo municipality voted for a new sorting system for garbage. Blue bags is for plastic, green for food waste and white for residual waste. This is a procedure that is easy to follow, but what happens to the garbage we throw out? The garbage truck takes the garbage to either Haraldrud or Klemetsrud for computerized sorting ona conveyor belt. Plastic is actually not recycled in Oslo, but travels great distances to Sweden and Germany for treatment. Foodwaste goes Ringerriket Biogas plant not far away. The residual waste stays in the incinerators generating heat to the inhabitants.
In 2013 Oslo became notorious for its waste-to-energy system. The New York Times wrote an article summing up Oslos current predicament, about the inhabitants not producing enough garbage for the incinerating facilities. This is not uncommon as Northern Europe generate 150 million tons each year. The incinerating facilites on the other hand can handle 700 million tons each year. Oslo is currently importing garbage from Leeds, England.
Lars Haltbrekken chairman of Norway’s oldest environmental group talks about the paradoxes of this issue. It seems logical that producing less garbage would be great news. But contrary to this fact, the pressure to produce more waste is growing, as long as there is an overcapacity. Generating energy from garbage has become the top priority when it is supposed to be our lowest.
If the goal was to produce less garbage, then the entire world should be taking lessons of Oslo as a prime example. Renovasjonsetaten issued a survey and report on the inhabitants of Oslo. They measured garbage volumes in each city burrows in Oslo and slated it in an
incomplete and unreadable chart. Recalculating the numbers and placing it on a map we get this information:
index 100 (Gamle Oslo) = 4,7 cubic meter per person a year.
This chart actually generates more questions than answers. What can a citizen from Gamle Oslo learn from a citizen from Bjerke for instance? As the divide is just sheer kilometres apart, why is the difference so big? One is tempted to draw conclusions on stereotypical social differences as that in the west the wealthier citizen are more prone to throw out their food than the less fortunate in the east.