Drylands Design: An Open Ideas Competition for Retrofitting the American West

Water scarcity is both the history and the future of the American West. Re-thinking water use, particularly in the face of climate change, will be central to the region's survival. The work exceeds the grasp of a single discipline, and touches all dimensions of the way people live and work. Sustaining the US West in the face of water scarcity and hydrologic variability brought on by climage change will require strategic architectures, infrastructures, and urbanisms that promote adaptation and resilience. Drylands Design seeks innovation in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, regional planning, and infrastructure design that addresses water supply, water quality, water access, water treatment, and the water/energy nexus. Drylands Design seeks integrative proposals from multidisciplinary design teams that anticipate science and policy perspectives as necessary dimensions of intelligent design response, and exploit beauty as an instrument of resilience and adaptation.
The purpose of Drylands Design is to generate a portfolio of long term design strategies for the arid and semi-arid west's water-scarce future. Proposals must recognize and address:

The Water-Energy Nexus
The relationship between water, energy use, and heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions is intertwined and self-limiting; uncoupling water's capture, treatment, distribution, and use from energy-intensive delivery systems is critical to a new western drylands design.

Scarcity + Variability
The twin effects of climate change on the American west's hydrologic cycle are expected to be scarcity (prolonged drought periods and diminished snowpack) and variability (increased intensity of flood events). Design for variability will replace engineering for stationarity.

Localized Resources
Rain water, storm water and single-use municipal supplies, currently treated as waste or flood, hazard, form the largest "undeveloped" sector of western water. Conventing local liabilities to assets will offset dependence on carbon-intensive imports.

Social Equity
Recognizing that no built environment achieves true vitality without social equity, Drylands Design seeks proposals that actively benefit low-and middle-income communities, urban and rural. More specifically, Drylands Design seeks proposals that promote an active and participatory civic engagement by citizen-users.

Thus, Drylands Design seeks responsive, variable, localized, and low-carbon alternatives to energy-intensive, 20th-century centralized water engineering solutions. Drylands Design seeks a portfolio of strategies for the west that actively remediate the environmental sterility, economic monocultures, and cultural lethargy induced by the West's dependence on an obsolete engineering paradigm. Drylands Design seeks proposals that tactically promote a place-specific built environment of both ecological and cultural vitality.

For more information (site, global context, registration, fees…): Here.

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