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Liquid Gold

Part 1 Project 2010
Christine Peters
University of Westminster, UK
Many stories involving water shortages have been spoken about in recent months, the need for fresh water in order to live is becoming increasingly publicised in magazines and television. It is our most vital resource, and with an increasing global population is becoming more scarce.

The aim of the Academy of Hydrology is to educate people about our most precious resource, that our very existence depends upon. Through treating water on site in reed beds to the desalination area at the tip of the site, this education does not require a classroom but an experience. Through the reed beds the visitors to the Academy are taken on a journey, seeing the several states of water: solid, liquid and gas, though not necessarily in that order. The water is distilled in the Tower, sieved through the reed beds, heated by the combined heat and power system to change its state to steam, which uses the methane generated by the reed beds. The water is generated and used on site in the spa, with surplus being channeled back into the surrounding area.

Bathing has for hundreds of years been believed and rightly so, to cleanse and purify the body from ailments and disease. It is also associated with religion and the purification of the soul, a spiritual act. In the Academy, the aim is to celebrate these attributes of water, the ways in which it can be purified by natural means and evoke its spiritual qualities through the architecture; the effects of water on the materials encapsulating it and its environment.

Christine Peters


Oil has dominated global geopolitics for the past fifty years. In the next fifty, it will be water.

Of the planet’s water resources, 97% are salty and 2% are locked in snow and ice. Less than 1% are available for drinking, farming, bathing and cooling of power plants. In the Academy, urbanites are taught about the use and abuse of life’s most precious resource and instructed in the arts, sciences, philosophy and poetry of water in all its forms – acquisition, storage, filtration, purification and distribution. A series of stepped reed beds embrace a processional route to the Academy’s subterranean facilities, the totemic Tower of Distillation providing a retreat for reflection, both temporal and spiritual. At one and the same time, the project is a hive of activity and endeavour, and yet, a sanctuary and a place of beauty.

Dr Ian Murphy
Virginia Rammou
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