JAE Vol. 74 Issue 1

journal of architectural education

Special Issue: H20

The word “H2O” sits uncomfortably on our tongues. While the word “water” harbors a host of divergent social, cultural, and theoretical meanings, the scientism underlying H2O distills the idea of water to its molecular structure, devoid of pluralistic, overlapping, or competing worldviews. In so doing, H2O denies or obfuscates the diversity of values and vested interests that water can hold. How might we better understand the complex stories surrounding water that might, in turn, help us create a more optimistic future?

- Alpa Nawre & Carey Clouse (Special Issue Editors)

Velikov and Thün’s contribution “Fluid Territories: Cultivating Common Practices Through the Design of Water Redistribution” examines the Paso del Norte at the US-Mexico border, where water—as an agent of geopolitics, commodification, and social reproduction—produces charged physical spaces and asymmetrical material realities in the borderland. While the waters of the Rio Grande and the rapidly diminishing aquifers contribute to the reproductive capacity of land within the desert climate, it is the infrastructures of water supply, sanitation, and flood control that reproduce sociospatial injustices and imbalances. Drawing on discourses and techniques that aim to redirect complex systems toward alternative societal ends, a studio design project attempts to remap the potential agency of water as shared matter and to rethink forms and formats of emergent urban infrastructure.

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