Water, Design, and Environmental Futures
Le Corbusier famously said, “A house is a machine for living in.” We now confront the litany of environmental challenges associated with the legacy of the architectural machine: a changing climate, massive species die-off, diminished air and water quality, and resource scarcities. Brook Muller offers an alternative: water-centric urban design that fosters sustainability, equity, and architectural creativity.
Inspired by the vernacular, such as the levadas of Madeira Island and both the arid and drenched places of the American West, Muller articulates a “hydro-logical” philosophy in which architects and planners begin by conceptualizing interactions between existing waterways and the spaces they intend to develop. From these interactions—and the new technologies and approaches enabling them—aesthetic, spatial, and experiential opportunities follow. Not content merely to work around sensitive ecology, Muller argues for genuinely climate-adapted urban landscapes in which buildings act as ecological infrastructure that actually improve watersheds while delivering functionality and beauty for diverse communities. Rich in images and practical examples, Blue Architecture will change the way we think about our designed world.
Built environments are greedy. They consume much from nature. Blue Architecture provides a vision for reversing the scheme of things and a roadmap for buildings to produce ecosystem services. By giving creative agency to water, Brook Muller offers vital new approaches to urban architecture.
A brilliant teacher, theorist and designer, Brook Muller claims the liminal as his domain in advancing water as a foundation for architectural and urban design. He connects poesis with pragmatics, historical vernaculars with the cutting-edge technological, and accountable supply chain with participatory community action. Muller takes on ecosystems courageously, preparing us for the complexity of the conditions we live in, and offering multiple relevant models for realizing hydrologically responsive urban architectures. I want to live in Muller's future, one in which designers are infrastructural collaborators and stewards helping usher in new processes as we build our common future.
Spirited, teeming with firsthand accounts and exemplary projects drawn from around the world, Blue Architecture leads us through the ways architecture can holistically incorporate water systems beyond the footprint of a single building. Brook Muller not only delivers a different way to look at the role design can play in addressing environmental uncertainty, but also reveals the values designers might bring to their work.
Brook Muller is the dean of the College of Arts and Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Also a design practitioner, he has worked for Behnisch & Partners Architects in Stuttgart, among others, and has designed projects across the globe. He is the author of Ecology and the Architectural Imagination.
- 1. Hydraulic or Hydrologic?
- 2. Aqueous Mediums, Urban Architectures, Anadromous Beings
- 3. Liquid-Shaped Space
- 4. In Concentrate
- 5. Reconstituting Architectural Horizons
- 6. Redrawing Waters
- Epilogue: Reflections in Depths
- Glossary of Terms for the Water-Conscious Designer
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