WaterSchool wins Dutch Design Award 2022

WaterSchool has won the Dutch Design Award 2022 in the category Design Research.

The jury report: “WaterSchool M4H+ is a research project that absolutely excels: a textbook example of how design research can play an educational role. Studio Makkink & Bey shows how, with a large group of designers and thinkers, you can analyse, understand, and experience an urgent theme like water use in all kinds of ways. Makkink & Bey are always and everywhere generous in sharing their knowledge and self-learning capabilities. This studio has been operating at the forefront of research by design for years and, with Waterschool M4H+, addresses a relevant topic in an open and exemplary way, which also has a substantial effect due to its longevity.”

Waterschool M4H+ stands head and shoulders above the rest: Studio Makkink & Bey presents a textbook example of how design research can play an educational role

“WATERSCHOOL M4H+ is a convincing project that tackles an extremely urgent and complex subject. Studio Makkink & Bey is involved in every aspect of the design and knows how to involve the right partners as well as a large number of young makers. WATERSCHOOL M4H+ gives shape to the principle of ‘learning by doing’. Studio Makkink & Bey takes on a whole range of roles; from planner, architect and designer to curator, mediator and moderator. The result is a clear set-up, multifaceted and well-presented research, and a wide scope for this comprehensive project that hits home on all levels.”

Dutch Design Awards page
website IABR WaterSchool

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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.

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