Our house is on fire, but what about the water?

The Netherlands and water are inextricably linked. For decades, we have protected ourselves from flooding and pollution through smart innovations. But now that the climate is changing, our delta is facing a new challenge. During Dutch Design Week, designers, experts and policy makers discussed a different perspective on water and a new role for the consumer.

Type Topic
Date 26 November 2020
Our house is on fire, but what about the water?

Because of the corona measures, it was only a small number of people that gathered in the Effenaar for the DRIVE 2020 session on water. Most of the creative professionals, water experts and administrators participated online. The topic of the day was how to entice consumers to be more careful and thoughtful with water.

But Anouk van der Poll, curator of the Embassy of Water, immediately warned against too much talk, too little action. ‘Our house is on fire’, she paraphrases Greta Thunberg. While climate change is affecting our daily lives – we experience more periods of drought and downpours – we still hang on to a wait-and-see attitude.

Together with governments and designers she therefore tries to shape the water transition. For example by giving water a voice and no longer treating it as a product. Bernhard Lenger, as social designer involved in the Embassy, described how our handling of water can change if we start to see ourselves as carers, instead of users of water. Designer Anne van Strien, also part of the Embassy of Water, talked about the podcast series she’s made on the wisdom of water.

One of the other speakers of DRIVE 2020 Water is Tom Bergevoet. As an architect of temp.architecture.urbanism he worked on the project ‘The building as a water machine’. He sketches how social housing in Amsterdam is being transformed into buildings that collect rainwater and make smart use of it, drastically reducing the use of drinking water and increasing liveability.

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