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A catalyst for new cultures of living

This project was part of DDW 2021

Exhibition, curated by Studio Makkink & Bey for International Architecure Biennal Rotterdam, with works of over 30 designers, architects & artists and results of research by design into resources that can serve as (building) materials and/or food while having a responsible relationship to water use.

Production landscapes

Rotterdam is a low-lying port city in the delta. In times of climate crisis, the city has to face up to acute challenges such as subsidence, water safety, extreme precipitation, heat, and drought. But what about water use?

WATERSCHOOL M4H+ investigates how a range of resources can contribute to building a sustainable and circular learning environment, in order to meet the water challenge and ensure an optimized ecological footprint. WATERSCHOOL M4H+ shows what a new living and working environment in Rotterdam’s Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H) district could look like if the 6,300 future residents think in terms of sustainable use of raw materials and resources, allowing for the just interaction between all organisms, communities, and their environment.

While also gathering and distributing knowledge, WATERSCHOOL M4H+ operates as a test site and a catalyst for the sustainable (re)development of the area. The exhibition and research were commissioned by the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and Projectbureau M4H and shown during the biennale of 2020-2021. WaterSchool at DDW is supported by the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and the Dutch Design Foundation.

Five resources

Adhering to a ‘learning by doing’ approach, the future production landscape M4H blends living and working while it is being designed around the prospective use of five resources. Insects, duckweed, seaweed, wood, and fungi are the five highlighted resources that shape the future of living in M4H, impacting all areas of life.

Starting from the basic needs of the individual and her body, such as nutrition and water use, these resources contribute to a new diet by suggesting the use of alternative and less water-intensive protein sources, and thus a minimized water footprint. And when expanded to dwelling, living, and working, and to energy and water consumption, they also generate new sustainable building materials and energy supplies, while suggesting new types of architecture and cultures of living.