Big Idea Architecture with Small Energy Footprints
  • Water Water Everywhere…or not? distill studio submits proposal for water conservation in Fresno, CA

    The William Turnbull Competition for Retrofitting the American West focused on securing a “safe, adequate, and reliable water supply for an environmentally and economically resilient future.” We chose the city of Fresno as the context through which we would address these challenges. Working within a collaboration of architects, designers, and engineers, the starting premise was that the issue of water needed to be addressed in the context of systems rather than objects.

    In the first board, to the left, Four main areas of focus were identified within the larger hydrological system in Fresno: water consumption, water treatment, density of development, and surface porosity. These areas were addressed through the lens of the residential sector. The decision to create a proposal specifically focused on the residential sector of Fresno stemmed from the fact that nearly two thirds of the overall water consumption of the city was rooted in housing (51% in single family housing, and 15% in multi-family housing).

    While it would be ideal to address the inefficiency, waste, and over-use within the commerial, institutional, or agricultural sectors, our research presents the reality that with very achievable changes within the realm of housing alone, Fresno can be transformed from a hydro[illogical] system that is fundamentally fated to collapse, into a hydro[logical] system that can not only maintain self-sustenance, but also recharge its aquifer back to its original depth before the year 2050.

    Above, in the board to the right:
    CHANGE: The problems inherent to the water system of Fresno exist both on the macro and micro level and are not independent of each other. They tend to reinforce the flaws in both scales of activity. In order to confront such a multi-scalar dilemma, a multi-scalar approach must be adopted. Change must come both from the top-down and the bottom-up simultaneously.Top-down change will inevitably come forth in the form of socioeconomic deterrents and incentives aimed at curbing over-use and promoting sustainable habits. These can manifest themselves in the form of new municipal policies, new municipal laws, or novel systems of taxation and funding that are progressive or proportional systems of economics/pricing, rather than the typical flat and generalized pricing/economics. The bottom-up change must address education and various forms of architectural/community prototyping. The changes in the residential sector, as proposed above, are very much achievable. They are goals, in fact, that have already been achieved in various areas of Fresno already where many residents are already living in a sustainable manner. The role of the architect-engineer-designer collaborative must to be to unveil these prototypes, establish new ones, and educate the public.