Water Research Centre

Strategies for the good management of water resources from architecture.
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Designer(s) : Juan Pablo Zuleta Alvarez

University : Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana - Sede Medellín

Tutor(s) : Walter Villa - Carlos David González

“The future of humanity will be determined by our relationship with the natural world and our management of resources over the next 20 years”

The history of water is the history of human beings on planet earth. And over time, the different communities and their cultures have determined how it is treated, domesticated and intervened in, conditioning how society inhabits the territory.

The project Water Research Center starts by investigating the relationship between society’s interventions concerning the water component in the city of Medellin, and how this relationship has manifested itself in the urban space on different scales over time. It proposes to break with the traditional paradigm of understanding water only from the technical solution to the problems of water management in the city, leaving aside its cultural, patrimonial and political value in our territory.

The project proposes to understand the processes of water purification and how the infrastructures could provide support in the understanding of the natural cycles of water, taking into account that they are the main tool of sanitation and proper management of water resources. The main objective is to reconstruct the political and historical sense that the city’s water heritage represents.

The process is developed from a conceptual point of view, under the premise that science and technological progress at the service of optimal interaction with water are the basis of innovation. This is applied to the duty of generating commitments with the cities and implementing alternatives for the treatment of hydric tributaries; hence the idea of rethinking the infrastructure as an architecture-laboratory of the territory. The research is oriented to the technical field of architecture and materials, where a search is made for water filters designed at different scales for intervention in the territory, which seeks to give prominence to the presence of water as an element for integration between the community, education and its territorial space.

For this reason, it is fundamental to have an interdisciplinary understanding of the water’s tributaries and processes, resorting to the study of natural and biological sciences that remind us of the obligation of water treatment systems as a vital need of human beings and the foundations for the healthy growth of societies. As a consequence, the study of the forms of human habitation and their relationship with the landscape and the territory is also integrated. These disciplines are integrated, leaving architecture as a means to achieve a single objective: to improve the conditions of human habitation.

“To add to the social contract the establishment of a natural contract of symbiosis and reciprocity, exchanging dominion and possession for contemplation and respect”.