WaterSchool is chosen to be part of the core programm at the Porto Design Biennale, initiated by esad—idea, the Research and Development (R&D) unit of ESAD – School of Arts and Design. The theme is ‘Being water: how we flow together and shape each other’, curated by Fernando Brízio.
WaterSchool transformed the Biodiversity Gallery into a Cabinet of Curiosities, exhibiting a wide variety of works by invited artists, architects and designers. The exhibition serves as a conversation starter in order to instigate discussions on how dwelling, living and working could be rethought and even redesigned bearing water and its impact in mind.
From October 19 to December 3, 2023.
WaterSchool exhibition @ Galeria da Biodiversidade — Centro Ciência Viva / MHNC-UP
Rua do Campo Alegre, 1191, 4150-181 Porto
Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 — 13:00h, 14:00 — 18:00h
Last admission: 17:30h
The WaterSchool, a self-initiated project of Studio Makkink & Bey (smb), is a speculative school designed and organised around water as an essential material, subject and social and political phenomenon.
It proposes rethinking of the economic and infrastructural model of education. WaterSchool is displayed in working exhibitions around the globe, meanwhile building a curriculum for the subjects to be taught (education) and constructing all spaces needed separately (architecture).
WaterSchool proposes a rethinking of the economic and infrastructural model of education: this school could produce everything it needs to function onsite through small-scale industrial collaborations with selected designers/artists.
Within the framework of exhibitions, Studio Makkink & Bey acts as a curator, inviting upcoming artists/designers to present their work in thematic exhibitions and series of lectures. Through uniting works within a speculative framework, Studio Makkink & Bey hints towards a future in which art and design are more integrated into education and life in general. In the exhibitions, projects are categorised according to themes, being Clean, Grow, Harvest, Make, Build and Document. Each of these themes pertains to a broader context and water-related issue, as well as a space and an act.
WaterSchool can be displayed in various ways such as working exhibitions and temporary knowledge centres, pairing the exhibition with lecture series and designers in residence. On a smaller scale, they present fragments of the WaterSchool, bring works together within settings connected to education and the classroom. Earlier iterations of the WaterSchool exhibition series include a working exhibition and lecture series during the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam in 2018, and a presentation at the Istanbul Design Biennal in 2018.
Studio Makkink & Bey proposes to thematically position the curriculum of the WaterSchool, directing all efforts towards studying water and analysing how it links to all subjects taught at school.
This was first explored in the exhibition presented at the Istanbul Design Biennial, where works by selected designers and artists were categorised according to the subjects taught at Turkish primary schools. Also included in the exhibition were fictional texts written by imaginary pupils inhabiting this future WaterSchool, which provided visitors with an insight into how these works related to the subjects taught and how they could be integrated within everyday lessons.
Parallel to this speculative approach, Studio Makkink & Bey is working hands-on in collaboration with several educational institutes in the Netherlands – integrating artists and designers into their curriculums. The aim is to develop both a system on how to incorporate them, as well as an archive of designers/artists who are willing to work with education, with the purpose of confronting pupils with alternative and unconventional approaches to topics and subjects.
United by a common idea and led by Studio Makkink & Bey, the local community invites artists and emerging designers to construct the entirety of the WaterSchool collectively. In this way, the school and its building site become both a Learning Landscape and a Production Landscape, aiding students in developing an alternative relationship with water, as well as engaging them and the local community practically in constructing a real-life example of a more sustainable future.
As opposed to conventional architecture, Studio Makkink & Bey herein proposes to first construct all spaces separately on the plot: the Sanitary, the Garden, the Kitchen, the Workshop and the Library. When all of them are built, all functions are unified within one building through the construction of walls. In this process, the WaterSchool can decide to make several of the functions and spaces semi-public, allowing for the neighbourhood to use them whenever the school doesn’t feel the urge to do so. In this way, both community and school become connected and intertwined, maximising the impact of the WaterSchool.