5 COMMON SENSE REASONS FOR A WATERSHED ARCHITECTURE [WA]
Water is our thread, guiding our qualities of shared lives...
Life and society depend upon water. We often fail to appreciate that the molecular connection is so essential. Recent human-altered water-based catastrophes in the USA alone such as hurricanes, floods, droughts, dam failures, contaminations, and wildfires place front-and-center that our technological supremacy over water can have unintended, and oftentimes disastrous, effects. We are Repetitively Reactive, rather than Positively Proactive. The status quo is economically, environmentally, and socially unacceptable.
Water ultimately flows where water wants to flow...
Water may be the most politicized commodity on earth. But ironically water is apolitical. Take the New Orleans region as an example. The Louisiana Delta has become ground zero for all things human-made-water disasters — hurricanes, oil spills, flooding rivers, sinking lands, disappearing wetlands, rising seas and yes, even droughts. However, it is important that New Orleans is not alone. Water is a continental issue and of course water is a global issue. Water—if not already so—will become the global crisis.
What happens downstream starts far upstream...
In the face of uncertain issues of climate change, extreme weather, sea-level-rise and population fluctuations both exploding and depleting, significant attention is brought to the comparative studies of deltas and their urbanized developments. Known as “Delta Urbanisms,” these water-rich regions arguably are the economic life-blood of most nations’ economies. However, it is crucial to take a bigger step back and understand deltas and their urbanisms, not just within themselves, but also within their larger distribution contexts—watersheds, or more technically, river basins.
Water is the source and our mutual resource...
But since I am an optimist architect, I truly believe that deltas, their urbanisms, and their much larger scale distributive river basin scale contexts must be the models for 21st and 22nd century hydro-regions. But this optimism is not foolhardy idealism. Actually, it is rather pragmatic. In other words, hydro-regions, up and down entire river basins, must get their fundamentals straight. These fundamentals first begin with a return to basics: a foundational understanding that water is the primary component of the actual ground that is occupied.
Know why water is where you are, where water comes from, and where water goes...
As designers, it is our responsibility to appreciate, understand, address, and draft possibilities of how the management of water ultimately impacts—and potentially prioritizes—our design decisions. These global fundamentals must reinstate an understanding of the complicated built environments we and all other species share—ones we cannot continue to dominate with hard-line and static interventions, but rather ones we should begin to design with adaptive and dynamic negotiations. To get to this notion of adaptation, designers must become better aware of design's trans-scalar relationships, both spatially and temporally. This is not just for design’s sake, but also more importantly for design’s multi scaled integration within landscapes, urbanisms, policies; and, ultimately the larger distribution contexts of watersheds that all designs inhabit. In other words, the inevitable—and hopefully smarter—next step in the cause and effect networking of human manipulated environments.
[WA] proposes a 4-part integrative, design-based METHODOLOGY:
DOCUMENT + MOBILIZE [D+M]
COMPARE + ANALYZE [C+A]
SPECULATE + SYNTHESIZE [S+S]
ENGAGE + CATALYZE [E+C]