1% Water

'Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, But there is also a third thing, that makes it water And nobody knows what
it is.'

DH Lawrence


It goes without saying that water is the stuff of life; it feeds earth's ecosystem, flows through our cities, our buildings, and our bodies. It is essential to our existence and a portal to our dreams. And yet largely through the way we use and abuse this precious resource, we face a water crisis and many of the ways we use water today are no longer appropriate to our future.

As one of the most vital and challenging issues of the 21st century, my interest lies in pioneering and nurturing imaginative design thinking around water that can help shape a more sustainable hydrological future. Over the past decade I have approached the subject from varied angles including curating exhibitions, writing and design consultancy. And for as long as I can remember before that, I've been obsessed by experiencing water in its in different forms whether steaming in Islamic hammam or Nordic saunas, bathing in Japanese Onsen or visiting natural springs around the world.

The 1% Water project started life as an exhibition at Z33 in Belgium in collaboration with Ilse Crawford, and continues to evolve into different forms including consultancy, talks and workshops, and a book and further exhibitions in the works.

The title 1% Water signals the fact that less than 2.5% of the world's water resources are fresh, and of this two thirds is frozen or inaccessible, leaving less than 1% available to us. But feeding a world population expected to climb to 9 billion by 2050 will require twice as much water for agriculture compared with today. 1% WATER aims to be a small catalyst for change, exploring and promoting ideas that can help us reconnect physically, psychologically and imaginatively to water and highlighting experimental thinking that will help shape a sustainable future.

We act as curators, conceiving and organising projects around water and inviting designers, artists, scientists, engineers, and water thinkers and experts from different disciplines to participate. The exhibition 1% Water was structured in 3 parts: (AB) USE was deliberately hard hitting looking at how factors such as the world's rapidly increasing population and increasing water consumption, climate change and pollution contribute to the deepening water crisis, as well as concepts like the water footprint - the amount of water used to produce the food and goods we consume - that can help us understand how water can be used more responsibly and strategically. In contrast, Sacred Waters explores the cultural dimension of water and water in relation to our psyche and the senses through the mythologies and rituals around water. Here we argue that historically water was protected and revered as the source of life and today in order to survive we need to revalue water and how we treat it. As well as historic objects associated with water rituals, it includes works by artists addressing the cultural and spiritual values of water and contemporary designers who are beginning to pick up on vernacular ideas and forms to shape a new water consciousness today. Finally, Reconnect highlights experimental thinking that is beginning to point the way to a more sustainable future, including concepts for harvesting, saving and purifying water as well as designs for floating living and living and using wave power.

An important Part of the 1% Water project is the reconnect archive, of new thinking and ideas around water and our future, and we are always keen to learn about new projects. Some of these are documented in our water blog

'DFA 19, Io', Brandon Ballenée, 2001/2008, 1% Water at Z33
exhibition poster
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