Throughout the past century, architecture's relationship with water has developed along a variety of different paths. With his “Fallingwater” house, for example, the American master Frank Lloyd Wright confronted the dramatic flow of water with strong horizontal lines to heighten the experience of nature. Since then, architecture's use of water has become more varied and complex. A space made almost purely of water emerged with Isamu Noguchi's design at the Osaka World Expo: glistening water appeared to fall from nowhere and glowed in the dark. Later with digitalization and fluid forms as design parameters, the focus shifted towards liquid architecture made of water and light. The interpretations have ranged from architectural forms modeled after literal drops of water, like Bernhard Franken´s visionary “Bubble” for BMW, to spectacular walk-in installations made of lines of water, transformed into pixels by light.
The War Over Water: This Dystopian City Design Was Inspired by Current Trends in Resource Extraction
It’s the year 2036 in Generic City, a gloomy place where once mighty skyscrapers are lucky to be in decrepit condition, if they haven’t already been swallowed by the ever-increasing number of sinkholes appearing throughout the city. But the city is not lifeless: a constant hum echoes about the city, a well-choreographed churning motion in pursuit of one central activity. In this city, the world’s most precious commodity—not gold, not diamonds, not even black gold but just simple, fresh water is under the total control of a mega-corporation named Turquoise. The people are ruled by an oppressive autocracy and life is divided between the haves and have-nots. Life revolves around access to water.
Is this the opening paragraph of the latest dystopian novel? No, but it might be Joshua Dawson’s interpretation of our troubling future. With CÁUSTICO, an ode to the growing tradition of “speculative design fiction” pioneered by countercultural avant-gardists of the 1960s (think Archigram, Superstudio and Archizoom) Dawson exaggerates the implications of current social phenomena for the purposes of rhetoric. While the truthfulness of his vision is a little on the improbable side, the work is an eye-opening narrative on the increasing scarcity of fresh water. At the same time, Dawson’s dystopic vision opens a conversation about the relationship of the architect with utopianism, while his representational techniques brings up the question of what exactly the work of the architect entails.
California is suffering through its 5th year of severe water shortage. Aquifers and rivers continue to dry out as the water provided by melting snowpacks is reduced, and even the heavy rain brought by El Niño this year could not relieve the drought. Authorities are wary of the long-term consequences for California and neighboring areas of the Colorado River, and Santa Monica is now seeing a growing number of initiatives to control the use of potable water and find sustainable solutions.
Most recently, a competition asked architects, artists and scientists to conceive sustainable infrastructure projects to improve Santa Monica’s water supply. Bart//Bratke and studioDE developed a raft structure named “Foram” that illustrates the future of floating platforms in sustainable development.
Under the name "MaT(i)erre(s) - about the connection between man and matters", this initiative invites you to share your experiences, theorical thoughts and eyesights on simple matters, in relation with body, space, urban areas, art, crafts, mind, socio-cultural, cosmogony, and science. These disciplines are called for setting in motion and in echo their actions and intuitions, to gather them soon in an « event-laboratory » where "doing" and "thinking" will be as one.
Today is World Water Day, established by the UN in 1993 to focus attention on global usage of freshwater and promote conservation of freshwater sources. To celebrate, check out this infographic created by The Water Filter Men. The infographic highlights everyday practices to conserve water and gives examples of architectural projects that have made water conservation a key imperative, including William McDonough's NASA Sustainability Base, 2011 ArchDaily Building of the Year winner Bilbao Arena by ACXT, and Renzo Piano's California Academy of Sciences, among others. Read on to see the infographic in full.
A year of controversies over water-related projects like Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge in London, or Frank Gehry’s LA River master plan in Los Angeles, can paint a fraught portrait of the relationship between design and one of our most precious resources. But in honor of World Water Day, we have rounded up some of the projects that represent the most strategic, innovative, and unexpected intersections of design and H2O that have been featured on ArchDaily.
Architecture and water have a long history of intersection, from the aqueducts engineered by the Romans to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and the relationship holds new value in an age of climate change coupled with evolving modes of thinking about the relationship between humans and ecology. An ever-broadening understanding of the human need for water—from health and hygiene to recreation and wonder—has ensured that new ways to incorporate this classic element into vanguard designs has flourished. The following projects feature water in a variety of ways, from proximity to bodies of water, to designs literally shaped or formed by their relationship to moisture, to projects that are physically immersed in the liquid, and finally other projects which are only visions of a yet-unbuilt future.
The Land Art Generator Initiative is delighted to announce that LAGI 2016 will be held in Southern California, with the City of Santa Monica as site partner. This free and open call ideas competition invites individuals or interdisciplinary teams to design a large-scale site-specific work of public art that also serves as clean energy and/or drinking water infrastructure for the City of Santa Monica.
The complete Design Guidelines along with CAD files, photos, and more will be available on January 1, 2016 at http://landartgenerator.org/designcomp
The design site includes the breakwater adjacent to the historic Santa Monica Pier and offers the opportunity to
Coming off of a weekend of brutally cold temperatures in the Northeastern United States, the praising of ice might strike some as disagreeable. But seeing the aqueous creations of the Utah based Ice Castles makes a persuasive case for enduring winter’s wrath. Using a patented system, the company designs ice constructions formed through an additive process in which a substructure of icicle lattices are sprayed with liquid water, resulting in grand formations with the appearance of stalactites or sublimating gases frozen in time.
Seasonally, in four cold-climate locations in North America, the company creates castles of varying sizes that are built over the course of three to four weeks and maintained for approximately six to eight weeks thereafter. What may seem like a simple activity – after all, it’s just ice and water – is actually a complex orchestration, not unlike more traditional architecture, which involves the careful consideration of a number of strategic and site-specific factors.
Los Angeles, as we know it today, was made possible by massive infrastructure projects that provide reliable sources of water to the otherwise semi-arid region. The mastermind behind many of these infrastructure projects in the early twentieth century was William Mulholland, the self-taught engineer who rose through the ranks to become the Chief Engineer and General Manager of the Bureau of Water Works and Supply (the precursor to today’s Los Angeles Department of Water and Power). Mulholland is most commonly remembered for the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which piped water to the city from the Owens Valley, over 200 miles away. But Owens Lake was drying up faster than expected, and the aqueduct was threatened by both earthquakes and sabotage from angry landowners and farmers in the Owens Valley who orchestrated dynamite attacks on the waterway, in what became known as the California Water Wars.
Mulholland needed a backup plan, so he turned to building reservoirs, most of which still function to this day. Tom Scott’s video above tells the story of how one of those reservoirs, and the failure of the dam that held it back, shaped the development of Los Angeles itself. When the St. Francis Dam collapsed in 1928 the ensuing rush of water killed at least 450 people (though some estimate the total is closer to 600), destroyed 1,200 homes, forever altered the reputations of Mulholland and the city’s water infrastructure, and ultimately cemented the boundaries of the city and its neighbors.
Reactive materials hold huge potential for architects and engineers in the near future, offering forms of interactive and customizable construction that could, if used properly, seriously alter the way in which people interact with their built environment. The massive expansion in the capabilities of touch screens and other glass based technologies have opened up user interfaces to levels where interactive cityscapes are becoming reachable - but creating materials which are themselves reactive is a much less-explored solution. Water Reaction, a project by Royal College of Art student Chao Chen, is an attempt at exactly that: creating a material that reacts to external conditions with no human input required.
This week COSMO begun its venture to filter more than 42,000 gallons of New York City water during the course of MoMA PS1's Summer Warm Up series. The 16th installation built as part of the annual Young Architect's Program (YAP), COSMO is a portable water purifier designed by Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation to combat the world's clean water crisis while serving an animated backdrop to PS1's party atmosphere.
An interview with Jaque, after the break.
London's central waterway, the River Thames, has been a site of enormous interest from architects and urbanists in previous years. From a controversial garden bridge to discussions about how to appropriate what has been described as one of the city's largest untapped public spaces, London-based practice studio octopi have now launched a Kickstarter campaign to help to realise their dream of creating "a new, natural, beautiful lido" on its banks.
Endorsed by a number of renowned and respected Londoners, including Turner-prize winning artist Tracey Emin, architect Ivan Harbour (RSHP), and Tim Marlow, a director at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), the ambition is to raise at least £125,000 (around $190,000 or €175,000) in order to seek planning permission for the Thames Baths project.
Find out more about the project and how you can support it after the break.
Among the many complex interactions between humans and water in the Ganges river basin, perhaps none is more awe-inspiring than the religious festival of Kumbh Mela, which every twelve years hosts the largest single-purpose gathering of people on the planet, with an estimated 2 million temporary residents and 100 million total visitors in 2013. In the following excerpt from his book "Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India's Ancient River," Anthony Acciavatti recounts the history of this spectacular event, as well as the smaller annual Magh Mela - and explains why even though it is temporary, the huge tent settlement that supports these festivals is not the "instant city" it is often described as, but instead a microcosm of settlement patterns across the whole Ganges.
Dangling at the tip of the Ganga-Jamuna Doab, where the Lower Ganges Canal system terminates, the city of Allahabad overlooks the confluence of the Ganges and Jamuna rivers. While the Jamuna, to the south of the city, runs deep and narrow, the Ganges, to the north and east of the city, runs shallow and wide. Where these two rivers meet (and a third mythical river, the Saraswati), is known as the Triveni or Sangam, the most sacred site within Hinduism.
Every twelfth year, the sleepy university city of Allahabad is transformed into a colossal tent city populated by millions of pilgrims for the Kumbh Mela (literally Pitcher Celebration). And it all seems to happen so fast. After the deluge of the southwest monsoon (June-August), the waters of the Ganges and Jamuna slowly start to recede. A city grid is tattooed into the banks and shoals of the Ganges. Tents and temples pop up in October. Pontoon bridges stretch from one bank of the river to the other and pilgrims begin to arrive in January. Then come reporters and camera crews from all over the world, who come to document the life of what must at first appear to be the world’s largest Instant-Mega-City: a temporary tent city with the major infrastructure of a metropolis.
Few geographies in the world nurture such a rich and complex imaginary as the Ganges River Valley. The heart of Indian Culture, and home to over one quarter of India’s population, the Ganges is one of the most fertile and infrastructure-heavy river valleys in the planet. Its many physical, historical and spiritual natures defy a single interpretation: always in flux, source of life and destruction, and venerated as a Hindu Deity, the Ganges fully embodies the complexities and excesses of the Indian Civilization.
In “Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River,” Anthony Acciavatti orchestrates a magnificent portrait of the Ganges River Basin, and its continuous reinvention as a test-bed for infrastructural innovation. Through the hybrid genre of the Atlas-Almanac-Travelogue, the book unfolds the many nested spatial and temporal scales that characterize this highly contested territory. Those captivated with the planetary urbanization of water will find in this book a timely and relevant volume of encyclopedic ambition and exquisite design.
For generations, nature has been held up as something to respect, to take inspiration from, to place at the center of architecture. Few new designs today are complete without some visualized parkland or tree placed implausibly high up on the latest visionary high rise development. But what do you do when nature ups and leaves? How can architecture respond? That’s the question that Mateusz Pospiech’s master’s thesis, completed at the Silesian University of Technology, attempts to answer by taking the severe example of the disappearance of Iran’s Zayanderud River and proposing the equally incredible solution: an enormous, six-kilometer-long ecologically sustainable megastructure along the dried riverbed, healing the scar both in the landscape and in the minds of Iranians.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected a team led by Woodbury University's Arid Lands Institute for its “Drylands Resilience Initiative: Digital Tools for Sustainable Urban Design in Arid and Semi-Arid Urban Centers” to receive the 2015 Latrobe Prize.
The Latrobe Prize, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession. The $100,000 award will enable the Arid Lands Institute (ALI) and its cross-disciplinary partners to further develop and test a proprietary digital design tool, known as “Hazel,” that eventually will enable arid communities anywhere to design and build the infrastructure needed to capture, retain and distribute stormwater runoff.
Water scarcity is a profound challenge for designers of the built environment. Beyond looking for water sources and creating sustainable ecosystems, how can we begin to create cities and buildings that will help us to celebrate and mitigate hydro-logical concerns? Hadley and Peter Arnold, co-directors of the Arid Land Institute (ALI) at Woodbury University, have decided to tackle this problem around Los Angeles. With the support of the World Water Forum and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, they recently developed a high-resolution geospatial model to strategically identify and quantify the potential for improving storm water capture within urban areas.
One of the United States’ most polluted bodies of water is about to receive a much needed make-over: In early 2014, construction will begin on a pollution-preventing greenscape that will run alongside Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal. The proposal, dubbed Sponge Park, was envisioned more than five years ago by Susannah Drake of dlandstudio and has just now “soaked up” enough funds to move forward.