Metabolis is a system of urban material metabolism. By using ad-hoc distributed networks of drones to detect, collect and transform local waste into materials and structures the material excesses of capitalist production become the deutoplasm of a nonhuman material ecology and the city-after-us.

The system is inspired by nest building swarm insects which gather building materials from their immediate environments to build optimised habitats without polluting and costly manufacturing. Combining this wisdom with emerging technologies such as flexible energy efficient solar cells, ultra light-weight drones and swarm robotic fabrication, we propose a 3D-printer drone which is able to collect and transform the surplus materials directly to the desired material.

Examples of applications include; making bioplastic from coffee ground and orange peel from areas with many cafes and restaurants, building shelters from seaweed and sand by the beach and increasing the bioreceptivity of glass and steel buildings by expanding its surface area with plant and animal-welcoming structures made from keratin (hair). Here, we visualise the application of the strategy to the gathering and repurposing of inorganic waste. In this scenario, the drones transform the plastic waste from the ocean directly into a floating structure, that keeps expanding as more plastic waste is added. In this speculative vision of a near future machine we find a new perspective on the value of waste.