Rosa Whiteley

Tomorrow's Cemete Feeds On
Textile, dried plants, soil samples, ceramics, video animation, 08:10 min
Animation Assistance: Henry Valori
Ceramics: Charlotte Moore
Weaver: Dinu Perva
Voice: Freya Bolton

This installation explores the pasts and futures of Europe’s waste legacies, from continued structures of environmental racism, to new forms of concrete-waste monopolies. Since China banned solid waste imports in 2018, eastern European countries such as Romania have been absorbing large amounts of European waste flows, with waste imported and smuggled, and then dumped or burnt. Waste-as-energy is an emerging energy source, where solid waste is used as a fuel within factories, that—while containing reformed petrochemicals, creating noxious smog and polluting soil and water—is considered an ‘alternative’ energy, and celebrated for its ‘green credentials.’ Half of all European cement is now created using energy from waste to fire their kilns. Tomorrow’s Cement Feeds On Us looks to understand the new worlds we create when we burn waste as fuel, focusing on the emerging collaboration between cement factories and waste industries. A suspended curtain celebrates the protective qualities of Timişoara’s tilia trees, from molecular absorption of airborne pollutants to permeable tree belts throughout the city. 

Tomorrow's Cement Feeds On Us asks how we can cultivate resistance to these toxic flows, imagining alternatives to cement that utilise the plants and fibres grown in toxic sites, to remediate the water and soil and store the toxicity within the built environment. Grass insulation blocks, metallic soil glazed tiles, tilia-tree mats, willow structures and stinging-nettle rugs are constructed from trees and plants that have grown around waste-fuelled cement factories in the UK and Romania. 


Rosa Whiteley is an architectural researcher and designer based in London. She works between ecology, architecture and geopolitics, analysing how the world is built through toxic flows, and how those flows, in turn, organise us. Her work often returns to an investigation of ecologies that emerge from and thrive within heavily polluted spaces. Rosa is interested in the worlds that form in the shadows of toxic clouds and damaged atmospheres, and investigates forms of architecture that form alliances with the strange ecologies that grow from these places.

Her work has been presented in Rotterdam, Beijing, Essen, Brussels and London. In 2021, Operaciones Editorial published Rosa’s first book, Horizontas Rosados. Rosa currently tutors in Media Studies at the Royal College of Art (RCA) School of Architecture, London. She holds an MA in Architecture from the RCA and a BA in Architecture from the Manchester School of Architecture.