Climate Change and its water-related impact require new design strategies, an adjustment of values, lifestyles, and practices in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Living with water has been at the heart of architectural, urban, and landscape design for millennia. These physical structures have historically been integrated in diverse practices, communities, laws, cultures, and religions to support locally adapted water systems. Defending against or harnessing water for multiple purposes became the driving concept as industrialization, technological innovation, and seemingly free energy became the driving the mid-19th century have led to a transition that disrupted long-standing patterns of living with water, creating new balances and imbalances.
The presentation will explore the relationship between water and design, past, present and future. It argues that to design water systems in line with future needs we need to reinforce ecosystem thinking that includes spatial, social, and cultural practices. It argues that we need advanced understanding of historic living with water, a rethinking of present conditions and new approaches towards designing future water systems as part of societal and cultural frameworks. We argue that architects and urban designers need to include water awareness into their local strategies to achieve sustainable urban design and architecture.