To address the topics of water shortage & water management and show alternative ways to approach both within the framework of education, Studio Makkink & Bey have been working on setting up and building a series of schools, dubbed “WaterSchools”, all across the globe since 2012.
United by a general concept and idea, which is then applied and adapted to each context specifically, these WaterSchools function as sustainable hubs, promoting and teaching about more environmental friendly ways of living and working.
Earlier iterations are a WaterSchool developed for Dwarka India on the occasion of the Climate challenge of What Design Can Do, a WaterSchool developed during the IABR International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and a WaterSchool during the Design Biennal Istanbul.
For the climate challenge of What Design Can Do Studio Makkink & Bey proposed to build a school in Dwarka, a WaterSchool, in order to address the topic of water shortage, and show alternative ways to approach it.
Within WaterSchool, selected emerging designers, artists and craftsmen are invited to work together with the pupils on setting up and constructing the entirety of the school, ranging from pens to uniforms to the entire building of the school itself.
In this way, the school becomes both a learning landscape and a production landscape. When finished, the school will function as a sustainable hub, promoting and teaching about more environmental friendly ways of living and working.
During the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) 2018, Studio Makkink & Bey organised the WaterSchool: a working exhibition to develop a future school, situated in the heart of the M4H district in Rotterdam, in the workspace of Studio Makkink & Bey. WaterSchool opened her doors for 6 consecutive Fridays, during the 6 weeks of the IABR.
The exhibition was a learning practice: within each of the Fridays, the topics of water and education were explored from different angles, according to a theme. The 6 WaterSchool themes were introduced: Clean, Grow, Harvest, Make, Build and Document. A selected team of employees from Studio Makkink & Bey performed research on these topics and how to integrate them into the architecture and curriculum of the School, in order to present their findings each Friday.
Paired with this, lecturers from the cultural sector, the industry and the government shared their views on water and education within lectures and discussions. Using the medium of an exhibition and lectures as a tool, Studio Makkink & Bey was able to connect companies, governmental bodies and designers working on topics related to water and education. In doing so, WaterSchool aims to create an active archive and network, branching out from the hinterland of Studio Makkink & Bey, being the M4H district, which is to be activated and used to found the WaterSchool.
WaterSchool was invited to be present at the 4th Design Biennal Istanbul in 2018. Besides a new curriculum of relevant topics being developed around contemporary issues, the WaterSchool proposed a completely rethinking of the economic and infrastructural model of education. Inspired by the Han’s legacies of caravan hotel, shopping centre and manufacturing hub, a primary school could produce everything it needs to function onsite through small-scale industrial collaborations, and also sell surplus to the public.
Opening the concept to conversation, the installation included an introductory film in which the director of the WaterSchool narrates a day in the life of the school. Further insight into how the WaterSchool would function was given by six members of the school in short podcasts. The tables detailed how artists and designers can be integrated into the curriculum and design of the school. Five tables focussed on subjects that could be taught in the school, one table gave a history of the WaterSchool project, and four tables gave insight into how focusing on water would impact the design of the School.