WAF Newsletter - WAFX Manifesto Update - December 2019


Jeremy Melvin, 17 December 2019

We introduced the WAFX manifesto two years ago to mark the tenth festival, and to provide a platform to discuss some of the critical social issues to whose solutions architecture can contribute. As in the past two years each of the ten category winners (for which all the future project entries are considered), were invited to make a short presentation focusing on how their project addresses the theme of the category it won.

The second stream to the WAF Manifesto is to make research grants for projects which specifically advance some aspect of each of the category themes. This year, for the second time we asked the winner of the water research grant, Maria Kuzma of Recycle Build Brazil to present her proposal, which was chosen from the responses to our open call for proposals.

Kiwi Kuzma and her research partner Pedro Oliva, who is Brazilian, both thrive on water in extreme states, Kuzma as a professional snowboarder (as well as an architect) and Oliva as a white water kayaker who has held the world record for the highest waterfall to be kayaked over. Their survival depends on their instincts and understanding water in their chosen conditions. Not surprisingly water underlies their research project, though in a slightly more benign state.

It started with a kayaking trip down a Brazilian river through the municipality of Sao Jose dos Campos, outside Rio. The goal is to find ways of reconnecting people and the communities they live in to the river. They sampled the river in analyzable and observational ways, from water quality to noting where there are sewage outflows. That gave them an understanding of the river, but they then moved onto understanding habitation on the banks.

Set on promontory whose apex is the confluence of two rivers, the school turns it back on the water. The proposal envisages rebuilding the school using solar energy, rain harvesting, and sophisticated but low tech means of recycling water. All this will reboot the pupils’ relationship with water which will eventually lead to the school being entered from river entrances which will also be used for watersports.

Most innovative, though, is the water recycling. They discovered red dragon worms in Bali, which can turn the faecal sludge from blackwater into their own droppings – and they can be sold for $25/kilo. But they can also be the core of a closed recycling method, by providing water to pass through a closed loop subterraneous system that also fertilizes a wet land system which cools and shelters outdoor spots and the building itself.

All of this contributes to rebuilding the school, and also prototyping techniques for low cost housing. The grant is generously funded by Grohe.

Read other WAFN Articles.

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