WaterSchools across the globe since 2012.

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, a WaterSchool during the Design Biennal Istanbul and Atelier Luma in Arles, France and presentations in Taiwan and China.

WaterSchool in Utrecht

Presentation of the second residency by Robbert van der Horst

In 2020 WaterSchool resides in Metaal Kathedraal (metal cathedral) Utrecht to further develop the curriculum of the WaterSchool. What subjects will be teached in the WaterSchool? And how can we link designers? The circular testing grounds of Metaal Kathedraal can also facilitate the concept of an open air school that we would like to include in WaterSchool’s curriculum. Next to that WaterSchool investigates two options:
- the designer / artist actually teaches directly to the children of the WaterSchool;
- based on work by designers / artists, a series of lessons is being developed for the WaterSchool, which will be given by the teaching team of the WaterSchool.

Next to a couple of Sunday morning sessions (dialogue tables) WaterSchool curates 4 residencies to be held in Utrecht in 2020. Noortje Sanders, Robbert van der Horst, Maarten Bel and Philipp Kohlmann are given one of the themes of WaterSchool (clean, grow, harvest, make, build and document). They are invited to explore ‘their’ subject without any predetermined direction or boundaries. At the end of the residency their design research is presented on the premises of Metaal Kathedraal.

Metaal Kathedraal Utrecht is a cultural institution, event location & knowledge institute. Metaal Kathedraal (metal cathedral) works at the intersection of art, ecology and society and, with its unique program, encourages its visitors to reflect. The program consists of workshops, exhibitions and performances in which visitors experience the (underestimated) power of nature through the work of artists, scientists and inventors in the building and on the grounds of Metal Cathedral.

website Metaal Kathedraal

WaterSchool presentation in Taiwan


From the 24th of April to the 5th of May 2019, the WaterSchool was part of the C-Lab (Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab) project “School On the move – Lagoon Apeiron” at the 2019 Creative Expo in Taipei. This former military base was transformed into a cultural space, which is used for contemporary art, design and cultural projects.

The starting point of the Lagoon Apeiron project was the social character of shrimp fishing. Shrimp fishing ponds used to be gathering places in society where people meet, talk, learn, play and socialize. Yet currently, with the changing urban lifestyle the fishing ponds and their social character are disappearing.

Referring to this, the exhibition’s central point was an actual fishing pond, thereby turning the exhibition space into a social space. It became a space for talks, performances, cooking lessons, workshops, fishing and discussions. During the “Lagoon Talk Series”, experts from science, anthropology, art and design shared their visions without borders.

The WaterSchool was invited as one of the eight exhibitors. Its vision on education, collaboration, co-creating and the connection with water resulted in a round table with a story woven into the table cloth. Here, Studio Makkink & Bey’s Cheesemaker was metaphorically connected to craftsmen on a small platform in the center of the table, stressing their vision on co-operation between different crafts. Threads lead to the stories and landscapes on the table cloth to show possible products and future scenarios.

School on the move
Creative expo

WaterSchool Luma Arles

photography by Joana Luz

In May 2019, WaterSchool was presented at the “A School of Schools” exhibition at Atelier Luma. Atelier Luma is a think tank, a production workshop and a learning network of the Luma Foundation, based in Arles, France.

The WaterSchool installation showed how an open environment can actually work in practice. Six ‘members’ of the school – the concierge, the clock operator, a student, a teacher, a workshop owner and a parent – were followed on a day around the WaterSchool’s premises in short podcasts.

The tables in the exhibition showed how school subjects could be renamed and reframed to fit the curriculum of the WaterSchool, as well as how works by artists/designers could be included in these subjects. The subjects analyzed were: social studies (renamed liquid borders), science (renamed H2O), foreign languages (renamed international waters), national language (renamed national waters) and maths (renamed counting drops). Other tables explained the history of the WaterSchool project and gave insight into how water influences topics such as building, producing and cleaning.

The exhibition included work and projects of Atelier NL, Giuditta Vendrame, Biopolus, Rogier Arents, Nicholas Hanna, Luigi Serafini, Thomas Trum, Jonas Ersland, Helmut Smits, Daan Wubben, Klarenbeek & Dros, Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters, Aliki van der Kruijs, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven, Marijke Annema, Caroline Jacob, Boris Lancelot and Philipp Kolmann.

Luma Arles Parc des Ateliers
Atelier Luma

WaterSchool Istanbul
Design Biennal

photography by Kayhan Kaygusuz

The 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 complete rethinking of the economic and infrastructural model of education. Inspired by the Han’s legacies of caravan hotel, shopping centre and manufacturing hub, the WaterSchool proposed for Istanbul could produce everything it needs to function onsite through small-scale industrial collaborations, whilst selling 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 a WaterSchool. Five tables focussed on subjects that could be taught in the school, one table outlined a history of the WaterSchool project, and four tables gave insight into how focusing on water would impact the design of the School.

Check out the animation we made detailing the WaterSchool in Istanbul.

Design biennal Istanbul

WaterSchool Rotterdam
International Architecture
Biennal Rotterdam IABR

photography by Timothy Lui

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 its 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 the 6 WaterSchool themes. These are: 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, and presented their findings each Friday. Paired with this, professionals 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, an active archive and network was founded, branching out from the hinterland of Studio Makkink & Bey, being the M4H district, which is to be activated and used to found the WaterSchool.

Read the booklet.


WaterSchool Dwarka/
What Design Can Do

On the occasion of the Climate Action Challenge, as initiated by What Design Can Do in 2017, Studio Makkink & Bey proposed to build a school in Dwarka, India, in order to address the topic of water shortage, and show alternative ways to approach it.

Within this school, dubbed the 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.

Check out the animation we made detailing our proposal for the Climate Challenge.

Climate Action Challenge for WhatDesignCanDo

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