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urban water [prototype] fields

Part 2 Project 2003
Christopher Crofts
University of Sheffield | UK
urban water [prototype] fields is a research based project structured around the existing condition of water and its potential of development within an underdeveloped area in Paris that is currently subject to an important urban regeneration process.

The project is based on a strategy of rainwater utilisation and is concerned with the conservation, management and technological network aspects of the Earth’s most precious resource finding potential for intervention through the existing conflicts – e.g. increase in consumption by 2 or 3 fold for the future – world population growth predicted to level out at 8.9 billion by the year 2050.

The project operates simultaneously at three scales: Global, Local [Paris - Ile de France], and Micro-Local [La Chapelle neighbourhood]. This was possible due to the transient nature of the multicultural residents (social and economic connections to their countries of origin), geographical location of La Chapelle, and Paris being the most visited city in the world with a Mayor as a member of the Green Party.

Enmeshed in the urban realm of La Chapelle, a prototype programmatic field of water use is created to offer residents the opportunities of a water autonomous lifestyle - ecological and socio-economic. Working within the multiple water scale boundaries enabled the site to become a tool, which could develop diverse layering of programs in sustainability, education, leisure, domesticity, biodiversity, social engagement and participatory development.

Christopher Crofts

The project deals with innovative politics of the use of rainwater within a metropolitan context. It successfully demonstrates the potential of one single element to generate a complex programme within an urban regeneration scheme and provides an alternative solution for a current park competition in Paris.

The “urban water fields” programme explores the multiple dimensions of water: life principle, energetic resource, landscape element, domestic and urban product, generator of urban dynamics at different scales. The park is organised under the principles
of industrial ecology, linking the industrial processing of the rainwater to its environmental and life cycles. All decisions in the design process are supported by a thorough research in the eco-technology of water adapted to the socio-urban context of la Chapelle area in Paris.

Chris's project proposes a highly experimental “prototype” that challenges the notion of urban park: it deals with not only new landscape aesthetics but also a new understanding of the social, ecological and economic dimension of a park in a “global city”, including aspects of energetic autonomy, self-subsistence and self-management.

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