Matilde Calamandrei

Piss or get off the pot!

New perspectives for the greenhouse: thinking about an Anthroponic system

It's a rich solution, we produce it, sometimes it's inside us and sometimes it's not - and it connects us all, from the tiniest insect to the mastodontic blue whale. Is it blood? No, it's urine!
Let's see how and in how many ways this solution - whose receipt was written directly by Mother Nature - can be useful: let's rediscover the golden secretion, usually disguised as disgusting liquid.


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Dear visitors, guests, friends: if you're familiar with us, you know we hold a special regard for unconventional practices, biology, and ecocentrism.
We've delved into various projects involving urine, such as Pure Gold, Piss soap, Secretopia, and the NIMBY toilet. Additionally, we've written a series of blog posts highlighting projects worldwide aimed at reusing urine.
Why are we bringing this topic up once again? Because, as you may know, we recently had an incident in our dear aquaponics greenhouse. If you want to dive deeper into what happened, you can read the whole story in this article.
Anyway, long story short, the aquaponics is no more, so we are researching on alternative and sustainable sources of nutrients. May urine be the solution?

Traditionally, urine is viewed as 'waste,' losing its subjectivity once excreted and becoming a mere object to discard—a classic consumerist mentality. But over the years, scientists, artists, curious folks, have explored the alternative lives of pee: whisky has been made out of it, you can use it to play guitar, or as canvas paint - and you can also produce concrete using sand and urine.
At Mediamatic, we look with gargantuan wonder at these innovative, odd and sustainable practices, so much that we totally embraced this topic: you can find a series of blogposts on urine (from the sexual interest it generates, to the name etymology, to the art that revolves around it, and many many more).
Our interest extends beyond educational articles [₁] [₂]; We've actively participated in unconventional uses of urine, collaborating on research regarding pharmaceutical uptake in plants grown on Struvite and hosting projects like the NIMBY Toilet and the Piss Soap workshop, not to mention the still existing Pure Gold installation.

Talking about “Pure Gold” - born as a project aimed to collect urine and use it as a ferilizer for the garden - it's now time for us to bring it back for our present necessities.
As a matter of fact, wee use in agriculture presents intriguing possibilities for sustainable farming practices: it is proved to be an effective fertilizer
[3][4][5][6], it allows us to save impressive amounts of water[7][8][9][10] and it can also be a social resource, especially in those countries where soil is poor in nutrients and the economic means are scarce[11][12].
Pee is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – so that so it's been a common topic in scientific research in the last decades
[13][14]. Actually, a year’s worth of urine from just one person contains enough phosphorus to produce at least half of their annual food requirement[15].
Think about the impact that peecycling can have: it is estimated that about 3.7 kg of nitrogen, 0.34 kg of phosphorus and 1.2 kg of potassium per capita/a could be recovered if all urine could be fully separated from other wastewaters[16]
Looking at all the data, we have striking evidence of how smart it would be to use urine as alternative nutrient source. Also, since the law only forbids its use for “agriculture”, but there is no specific legislation for communal and social gardens, we can freely use it to grow our greenhouse plants!
The plan is easy: we collect the urine through the art installation by Kamiel Rongen, sterilize it with UV light and add it to the system. This way, we rely on a sustainable and safe resource as fertilizer for the plants.

In conclusion, adopting urine as a sustainable nutrient source holds promise for modern agriculture. Despite regulatory hurdles, its benefits for eco-friendly farming are clear.
So, when you're next near Mediamatic, remember: never pass up an opportunity to pee! Especially when it helps the environment
And, who knows, maybe your next visit will include a taste of our unique "peezza"!