All societies are defined by the relation between the geographical environment and the built space in which they live. Architecture is the way to create a relation between human beings and natural environments. Our generation has a new challenge, because never in the earth’s history has the population been so concentrated on specific territories. The more we are, the more vulnerable we become.
As architects, we must take into account a new approach. Nommos specializes in integrating water in urban areas because we believe that this is the main challenge of our generation. We developed the notion of «Non-fragile territories» to explore a large panel of possibilities to advance resilience and risk culture in architectural and urban projects. We believe that this resilience of territories can only exist with infrastructural works and a working consultation with residents. A non-fragile project prepares both inhabitants and infrastructure to accept risk and manage it through adaptation.
Water is essential to life. Water resources are one of the biggest challenges of our century. Drinking water resource are becoming increasingly limited. Urban planning has a role to play in this. That is why architects and planners have to understand the importance of the water in projects.
Changing our mind. For a very long time, humans have believed in their capacity to control nature and, for a very long time, this was surely the case. However, the evolution during the last two centuries has led us to believe in the capacity of technology to protect us from natural changes. Little progress can be achieved without changing these mentalities. Today, we now know that urbanization has a definite impact on natural environments. In turn, water issues are directly connected, and have to bee central to our way of imagining the future of our inhabited territories. Two main topics must be developed in urban planning: the protection of natural resources and the preparation of the evolution of the territories through climate change.
Architecture is part of a system. Human activity is so prominent today that it interferes with the natural cycles of water. Water resources need time and space to offer a good quality for human and animal populations. Architecture and urban planning has to take this into consideration. The idea we need to consider is the possibility to developed systems which protect and preserve this valuable resource. If we take care, then densification of the urban population is not incompatible with the natural water cycles. From now, we have to think about the quantity of water used to make a project (i.e. materials, energy) and a particular attention needs to be focused on the pollution generated by the construction techniques (i.e. micro-pollutants and persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic substances). The water we use for construction requires energy for treatments. All the pollution it causes cannot be treated and some of the pollutants come back into the natural cycles and imbed themselves in the groundwater table or in the sea. Thus, architecture has a direct impact on water quality.
Living with water, for better or for worse. The risk of flooding will be more and more real in the coming decades. Urban planning should take into account a greater adaptation to the natural elements. A large part of the global population currently lives on the coast in territories that become increasingly vulnerable. A culture of the risk has to be developed in projects and architecture must offer solutions to guarantee the inhabitant’s safety. We must develop adaptation strategies to combine architecture and water in times of flood. We have to prepare territories through a resilient strategy. Each project from now on has to take into account the importance of flooding risk and develop innovative solutions to deal with the threat.
Aestheticism of water. This new way of thinking for architecture and urban planning in symbiosis with the natural elements opens up a large panel of possibilities for future design. A new architectural language can be developed with and by water. Formal contemporary design can be completely reinvented: to store water, slow it down, reuse it, and more. All of those technical elements should play a part to inform a new architectural language. As water becomes present in the consciousness of architecture design, the easier it will become for the population to understand (and appreciate) the importance of the water resources.
One thing is certain, we are responsible. Architects, planners, politicians and inhabitants, we all have a role to play in the future evolution and adaptation of territories. Our work from now is to prepare these spaces to be non-fragile and more resilient for the next generations.