fluid architecture - using architecture as a tool to solve the water crisis in south africa

The water shortage in South Africa is no new phenomena, the country has faced on and off water shortages for decades but what defines water shortage? Water scarcity refers to volumetric supply in relation to human water consumption per capita. South Africa is a semi-arid country with a low rainfall and high evaporation rate. In an attempt to avoid a luring “day zero” a secondary water supply is needed in the country as a means to aid in the high water demand.

My research aims to explore the potential of a saltwater desalination plant along the coast of Cape Town, and how such an intervention can break the barrier between ocean and land mass, between water and the built environment. Water is not only the essence of life but also a commodity, it is volatile, functional, cultural. I aim to explore the way in which water inhibits space, flows and interacts with people within the built environment. How can this be transcribed architecturally to sculpt an urban intervention that is not only functional, but didactic and aims to enrich the soil it inhibits through a sustainable approach that reaches into the realms of groundwater harvesting and run off water collection. Historically Cape Town was built on the premiss of water, from ships arriving by sea looking for settlement to the Khoisan seeing Cape Town or Camissa as the “place of sweet waters”. The historical grachts that run underneath Heerengracht street now known as Adderley street are abundant in running potable water, how can this precious resource be unearthed to create flourishing water bodies within the urban fabric a harmonious symbiosis between ocean, land mass, the urban fabric and historic water bodies.

Using psychological principals to aid in the design process seeing as water is not only functional but reaches into the metaphysical world, to make the intervention humane. How can architecture solve the water crisis in South Africa?

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janke pretorius