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Water Building

THE WATERFALL              


                                

         
                      

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Building with Water?
     by Mary Chant

I have to say I was fascinated by this water building
press release. A building made of water? A building that could appear and disappear at the press of a button? A building that would let the user decide where to enter, creating a door anywhere on the perimeter? A building that responds, to me? A groundbreaking effort in the field of building/human interaction. All so cool.

But then I started feeling a twinge of guilt about loving the water building. As articles in The Waterfall and other water-aware sites remind us, water is a precious resource. Somehow loving the water wall building concept felt a little like declaring "let them drink Perrier".

Was this guilt rational? After all I love new things - innovation. When people complain about the cost of the space program, I glaze over. I love the space program. I think it fills a fundamental human need for exploration. Shouldn't this same argument apply to the water building? Well, maybe. Except that water, unlike outer space, is in critically short supply in so many parts of the world.

I know that the money spent on NASA could be spent on social programs, but it probably wouldn't, likewise with the water building. So I don't think the money is my problem. And in fairness, it should be noted that the purified water used for the project is perpetually recycled. Also, in a hot climate the water walls are naturally cooled, dispelling the need for air conditioning. According to the press:

"The Pavilion illustrates the potential of "digital water" as an emerging medium. While there have been prior attempts to digitally control water droplets, this is the first time that the idea was used to create an architectural space. Since plumbing and electronics are not inherently expensive and recycled water is plentiful and cheap, water walls could conceivably be created on a large scale."                                          

I am no expert, but recycled water is certainly not "plentiful and cheap" everywhere, is it? According to a BBC article on the UN World Water Development Report, "Almost 20% of the world's population still lacks access to safe drinking water". Is creating buildings from water justifiable, when the consensus from experts is that current water policy "fails the world's poor'? (One version of the waterwall press release was modified to read "Since recycled water is sometimes cheap and plentiful, water walls could conceivably be created on a larger scale in the future.", but the subtitle of the article Recycled water can be cheap, abundant, so use on big scale viable, looked like a hedged bet to me.)

And while I found numerous versions of the press release announcing the water building, at scientific, architectural and news sites, I had a hard time finding editorial comments or informed debate about the project. I did find some comments at Digg, which included "You know you live in an affluent society when walls are made of fresh water." and "entertaining but utterly useless" - so at least a few people are suffering from the same reservations that I have been struggling with.

The Digg comments also included references to a recent car show that used some similar technology to create words and pictures in water in order to attract attention to a new Jeep. I noticed too that reporters covering the story honed in on different features: some highlighted the truly "automatic" doors, which create themselves on demand; some were intrigued by the words and images that could be made by the falling water walls (and were apparently unaware of the existing Jeep display); some were in awe of a building that could appear and disappear at will. But not one journalist seemed concerned about the implications of using of water as a building medium.

So what are the implications for practical, usable, sustainable buildings built from water?

How much energy will it take to maintain? How much purified recycled water is used per foot of "wall" space? How noisy is the structure, with walls made of falling water? How does the project address security and privacy issues? How will it be perceived by people from water scarce areas?

I reviewed dozens of articles about the water building. Is it a design tour de force? I'm convinced. Is it a meaningful project with benefits for the future? I'm left high and dry.

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Paris Takes Back Control

French water giants Veolia and Suez are getting kicked out of the their own capital city. The Paris city council announced that the city's water system would revert to 100 percent public control at the end of 2009. The aim is to keep water prices in the city stable.

"This decision illustrates that communities suffering from the effects of corporate water privatization can fight back to take control of their water infrastructures." was a quote from an advocacy group.


                                                                                                                                                                              Fountaine_des_Mers__Place_de_la_Concorde.jpg

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Coconut Water

Visit our friend Lita Lee's site to learn about the extensive health advantages of coconut water, which include a sense of well-being and renewed health.  Lita Lee provides information, a book about coconut water, and you can buy it directly from her.  Click on Coconut Water Article

      

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Recycled Water to be Used for Irrigation in California

A new pipeline in Banning, CA will carry recycled water for irrigation, street medians, greenbelts, parks and golf courses.
Using recycled water this way will save potable water for drinking. A waste water treatment plant will be expanded from 3.6 million to 5.1 million gallons per day to supply adequate recycled water to the new pipeline.

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