In his book Water and Architecture, author and architect Charles Moore wrote that the key to understanding the architecture of water is to understand the water of architecture: the physical laws which govern its behavior, the ways in which it engages our senses, how its presence relates to us as human beings. Opportunities to observe these qualities have diminished as visible water has almost disappeared from everyday life, much of it diverted through pipes and culverts for domestic use and agriculture, or transformed into virtual water by the food processing and consumer products industries. The absence of water from the public realm has been accompanied by the realization that fresh water is itself a precious commodity, scarce or in limited supply throughout much of the world, and a growing awareness of the importance of conservation, as well as the preservation and restoration of water resources in natural ecosystems.

As the mediator between natural and constructed form, architecture can play a significant role in shaping our experience of water. Part of the fascination of water for architects is that its essential qualities – fluid, dynamic, transparent – are unlike buildings in most respects, but both are essential for human life. The common theme of water inspired Graduate Thesis students to explore the design of architecture which significantly supports water conservation, storage, purification, recycling, and flood remediation, but also restores the splashes, ripples, sprays, trickles, floods, waves, streams, and droplets of water as manifestations of its presence in the built environment.

— Rene Davids
Professor of Architecture
UC Berkeley, College of Environmental Design

August 2013