Water is indispensable for all forms of life on Earth, as it plays a vital role in maintaining biological processes, supporting ecosystems, and contributing to human well-being. Additionally, water holds cultural significance in many societies, being associated with rituals and ceremonies and carrying diverse symbolic meanings.
Water: The Latest Architecture and News
First-Ever +POOL to Open in New York City This Summer, with Plans to Expand Swimming Access across the State
New York Governor Hochul has announced a partnership with the nonprofit Friends of + POOL to open the first urban river-sourced swimming facility in the United States. Utilizing + POOL’s design and technology, the 2,000-square-foot plus-shaped swimming pool is set to open in New York City’s East River in the summer of 2024. In 2010, four young designers, Archie Lee Coates IV, Dong-Ping Wong, Jeffrey Franklin, and Oana Stanescu, established + POOL with the goal of providing New Yorkers with access to free and safe river swimming. Now the state promised to invest $16 million to pilot and scale the system, hoping to expand it across the state of New York.
Following the extreme floods that affected Pakistan in 2022, architect Yasmeen Lari the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan pledged to help build one million resilient houses in the country. In 2022, 33 million people have been displaced, and an estimated 500,000 houses have been destroyed or severely damaged. In September 2022, Lari’s NGO launched a target program to start rebuilding and to help communities protect themselves against future disasters. The program is built on Lari’s expertise in working with the communities and employing vernacular and local building materials to achieve resilient and sustainable structures. According to the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, one-third of the goal has already been reached.
Water and architecture are closely related in habitat design, encompassing both functional and aesthetic aspects. The best option is to take this into account from the beginning of the design process, as implementing appropriate technologies and systems will determine water consumption. Currently, it is our responsibility as professionals to think about how we can reduce and recycle water consumption within our own homes. There are various ways to address these needs, such as installing low-flow devices in faucets and showers, dual-flush toilets, and efficient irrigation systems for landscaping. In addition, rainwater collection and reuse systems can be implemented for irrigation or house cleaning, which contributes to its conservation.
Integrating water into landscaping in unique and sustainable ways has become an increasingly relevant approach to recent projects. Proper use of this natural resource adds aesthetic value to green spaces and can also promote ecologically positive responses to the work. Looking for different perspectives and innovative solutions, we look for projects with different approaches that integrate water and landscape.
June 8th was World Oceans Day 2023, which brought the theme 'Ocean Planet: Tides are Changing'. The purpose of the United Nations was to generate a "new wave of enthusiasm for caring and protecting the ocean and the entirety of our blue planet."
A new opportunity to reflect on the importance of preserving these vast aquatic ecosystems that cover more than 70% of the Earth's surface - and an opportunity to reflect on how architecture can contribute to their protection and conservation through the design of resilient coastal infrastructure, the development of marine energy technologies, sustainable design of coastal buildings, and regeneration of marine ecosystems.
An arid environment refers to specific regions characterized by a severe lack of available water and extremely dry weather conditions. More specifically, arid regions by definition, receive less than 25 centimeters of rain per year. In the immense vastness of arid environments, where extreme climates present significant challenges, the role of water in architecture takes on a new dimension.
For centuries, architects and designers dealing with harsh desert landscapes and the vital necessity of water have invented techniques, technologies, and new structures. Moreover, many creative approaches have been created to harness, collect, and cool water in arid environments.
Even as a child, the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa was very aware of the fundamental element that would describe and underpin his work many years later: water. When he played and ran around the maze of streets and canals, Scarpa listened to everything around him, especially the richness of stimuli that his hometown offered him. A sensitive reader of places, he found his great text in Venice. This culture, subtle and almost academic, except for that devotion to scenography and the esoteric, is built over time; art, space, history, all compiled in his readings, trips to knowledge, and in his contact with artists and writers.
Scarpa would base his evolution as an architect on his extraordinary visual culture and his respect for tradition and the way of doing things in past eras; taking up the baton of that time and converting his reality into architectural space where all the pieces are independent units, dialoguing with each other or, as he liked to say, singing. He positions himself before what exists, whether it be an artistic piece or architectural space, from knowledge and sensitivity. He will apprehend the history and place in which it occurs and accentuate the existing beauty in things, showing the prominence of the new as a precious element.
As awareness of water scarcity, water stress and environmental sustainability grows around the world, the concept of "water footprint" is becoming increasingly relevant. Unlike its more popular cousin, "carbon footprint", which focuses on greenhouse gas emissions, the water footprint (WF) provides a holistic view of water used throughout the life cycle of a product, process, or activity. It measures the amount of water consumed (directly and indirectly) and polluted –taking into account different types of water resources– and serves as a valuable tool for companies, policymakers, and individuals to understand and address their water-related impacts. There are even online calculators that measure our individual footprints through simple questions about our homes, appliances and even eating habits.
From Costa Rica, architect Bruno Stagno not only reflects on how responses to the environment can be the main basis for inspiration and identity in architecture but also proposes going a little further, with contemporary tropical architecture for an entire latitude.
What happens when these limits are extended? What happens when these motivations escape outside of the tropical context? Bruno Stagno presents here the project "A Mangrove for Berlin", his participation in the 1995 competition for the Reconstruction of the Berlin Academy of Architecture, "Berliner Bauakademie", an emblematic work of the architect Friedrich Schinkel.
Danish Maritime Architecture Studio MAST, working together with the Municipality of Segrate, plans to transform a former sand quarry into a central park to reconnect the surrounding neighbourhoods and create a new destination for the residents of Milan, Italy. The abandoned quarry has left behind a unique landscape. The off]ice’s proposal includes a series of buildings along the lake’s perimeter linked by a public walkway and a cluster of islands in the centre of the lake. MAST is currently working with the Municipality of Segrate toward realising the project.