Architecture can not be considered separate from the resources that its users require. This is particularly true of water, which has already started to appreciate value in a manner comparable to oil. Too often, our buildings are dissociated from site hydrology, particularly in urban settings. When architects and building managers assume the role of conservationist, they can better understand the power of a structured ecology and the economic benefits of integrating operations with nature-based systems. Similarly, an existing landscape can thrive, or even improve, through an architectural process that carefully considers the relationship between building and environment.
Water is recognized as an essential component of life, yet in some societies it is largely taken for granted – in stark contrast to others, where accessing water is a daily struggle. Oftentimes the nature of water, including the way it moves through the environment, is far removed from our everyday consciousness and not fully understood. By demonstrating water’s natural and beautiful qualities, a building can encourage responsible appreciation, subtly leading to behaviors that conserve a wide range of resources.
Conservation is much more than installing efficient plumbing fixtures. Building systems have the potential to act as a biofilter or a storm-sponge, to support or restore hydrological cycles, and to reduce strain on built infrastructure. When we align a building’s systems with those of a site and a city, we create the opportunity for long-lasting mutual support between the built and natural environments.
In exploring Water + Conservation, we will delve into questions like:
+ How can we use architecture to restore and protect hydrology?
+ Can we design buildings as better water citizens?
+ How might we achieve net-positive water in the densest habitable contexts?