The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 4

WATER

THE ARCHITECTURE OF WATER
by GORDON S. GRICE, OAA, FRAIC

hen I was in Grade 4, or maybe Grade 5, my class
did a Social Studies unit on water. Our task was
to explore all the wonderful things that water does
for us. In those days, we had no inkling that water
would soon become a topic of intense international concern.
So our projects made no mention of drought, desertification,
rising water levels, flash floods, vanishing drinking water, melting
glaciers and ice caps, oceans polluted by plastic water bottles
and endangered marine life. Instead, we discussed transportation, irrigation, communication (yes, radio waves and airmail
had been invented, but you could still send letters by sea),
nutrition, exploration, hygiene, recreation, religion, commerce,
and the support of life itself.
In later years, I found out that practically every area of academic study involves water in one way or another, from chemistry
and physics to history, religion and English literature. Water, I
discovered, could be either quantitative or qualitative - or both,
as in architecture.
The importance of water in the built environment had not
occurred to me until my first class in Building Sciences when
our no-nonsense professor told us that, in plumbing, there was only one rule: water
flows downhill. If we could remember that, and design accordingly, we would never run
into problems with building services. If you work in the architectural or construction
industry, you'll know that this was an oversimplification. While water flows downhill, it
also drips - onto furniture and carpets - and creeps uphill and sideways inside walls,
creating mould, mildew and ice formations. On its way downhill, it can wash away foundations, create sinkholes, stain surfaces and flood basements. I ultimately learned
that water is the number one source of professional liability claims.
I also learned that, on the qualitative side, water is a useful design element.
Fountains and pools can enhance the sensory experience with soothing sounds and
natural cooling. As an amenity, it can keep people healthy and entertained. As a utility,
it allows greenery to flourish and converts some of the C02 that building processes
generate back into oxygen.
On the quantitative side, water is a versatile and essential building material. Concrete,
which is 15 to 20 per cent water, is currently produced at the rate of around 70 to
75 billion tonnes per year, globally; that's about 70 to 75 trillion litres of water.1 At
varying levels of consumption, concrete has been in use for over 2,000 years.
A few more water facts that bear on the built environment:
* For domestic use, the average Canadian uses about 329L of water a day, representing about 20 per cent of total national consumption.2
* The North American lawn continues to define middle-class affluence; the average
American family uses about 545 litres of water/day for outdoor landscape. Compare
this to the average developing-world family consumption of 10 to 25 litres of water
per day.3,4
* Water parks have become a staple of family entertainment. In 2018, 2.27 million
people visited Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando FL. Incidentally, the average water park
is extremely careful in its re-use of water.5
4 | Read The Right Angle Journal online www.therightanglejournal.com

The Deluge,
Gustave Doré, 1866.
WIKIPEDIA GALLERY


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The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020

Water
Index to Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - Water
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 5
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 7
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2020 - cover4
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