Design in the Terrain of Water makes room for water as a ground in design: water that is everywhere before it is somewhere; water that is in rain before it is in rivers, soaks before it flows, spreads before it gathers, blurs before it clarifies; water that is ephemeral, transient, uncertain, interstitial, chaotic, omnipresent. This is water to which people are increasingly turning to find innovative solutions to water scarcity, pollution, aquifer depletion and other problems that are assuming center stage in local and global politics, dynamics, and fears. It is also water that is celebrated and ritualized in ordinary and everyday practices across many cultures. The book brings together the work of eminent professionals, designers, artists, scientists and theorists, who respond to the challenges that this water poses, its visualization, its infrastructure, its politics and its science. At a moment when design disciplines are beginning to embrace measures such as flexibility, agility and resilience, this book makes an important and timely contribution. These are measures that we associate more closely with water and watery imagination than the terra firma that grounds aspirations of prediction and control that have proved elusive, perhaps even detrimental. The book asks if in this time of uncertainty and ambiguity brought on by increasing openness of economies, cultures, and ecologies, we need to re-invent our relationship with water. Should we look to the past, present and future and ask if in seeing water somewhere rather than everywhere we miss opportunities, practices and lessons that could inform and transform the design project? What role has representation and visualization played in confining water to a place on land? Can we look at projects in history and projects emerging today - cities, infrastructures, buildings, landscapes, artworks - with a cultivated eye for waters everywhere? What is it to see water as not within, adjoining, serving or threatening settlement, but the ground of settlement? Design in the Terrain of Water is a collection of visual and textual essays that present a way, a direction, and perhaps even a paradigm shift in how professionals imagine, build, and advocate in a terrain of water.
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Design in the Terrain of Water was envisioned and edited by Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha, professors at the School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. An underlying thread in their work is a concern for how water is visualized and engaged in ways that lead to conditions of its excess and scarcity, but also the opportunities that its presence and fluidity offers for new visualizations of terrain, design imagination, and design practice. They are authors of Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape, (Yale University Press, 2001); Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore's Terrain (Rupa & Co., 2006), and Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (National Gallery of Modern Art / Rupa & Co., 2009).
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