powering cities with the human body

What if… cities could be powered by their citizens?

The human body like any other machine is part of a broader system of input and output. We consume, but we also produce. Unfortunately, this fact has been totally overlooked in the design of buildings and infrastructure. Our collective consumption of food, space, and material resources are rampant and unsustainable, and yet our collective biological output is wasted. In this future scenario, traditional building and transportation infrastructure will respond and utilize the natural outputs of the human body.

INPUT: food, oxygen, material consumption (oil, plastic, paper etc), space, water, electricity

OUTPUT: heat, movement (kinetic energy), sound, excrement, CO2

Systems already exist to address some of these issues, but the technology is still in its infancy. This proposal operates within a future in which these systems have already been established and integrated into the fabric of the built city, inciting the questions: How would this change the everyday life style of  the average city dweller/ would it at all? How adaptive are these systems to citizens with less bio-energy output? Are there regulations or quotas imposed on the citizens to ensure a healthy symbiotic input and output relationship? Is bio-energy commodified within certain sects of society?

I’ve also done some research into the existing technologies for utilizing bio-energy in humans.


Here radiant underfloor heating is used in a busy Parisian train station to heat an adjacent apartment building. Stockholm’s Central Station uses a similar idea.


This kickstarter project is an incredibly interesting and effective example of utilizing kinetic energy to create electricity. This soccer ball has the ability to generate 3 hours of LED light from 30 minutes of play.

This project is aimed primarily at the idea of integrated symbiotic systems within the built environment, however, it could be applied to biological implants or augmentation as well. Imagine being implanted with a small device to continuously power your mobile device or to create wifi connection like it has been implied in this article.



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