DDF 02 - 03 - 2010

The one single element that has most affected our cities and our societies is water. Thus far on the trip we have been able to see several different methods for the transport and utilization of this precious resource. Roman aqueducts, as seen in the upper image to the right, are a prime example of the sustainability of ancient civilizations. We have seen aqueducts in many of the cities we have visited, with the most well known being Pont du Guard in Avignon France. The aqueducts, built out of local stone, carried water powered by gravity to cities nearby. This architectural achievement allowed for these civilizations to have many advantages that their predecessors were not able to enjoy. From this availability of water came many luxuries that today we take for granted. The first cooling systems were water based and would not have been possible if not for the Romanís ideas about the transport of water. During the summer months the pools of water, which were also aesthetically pleasing, would allow spaces to be cooler by a process called evaporative cooling. Several newer buildings such as Norman Fosterís Hearst tower in New York City have found modern ways of incorporating these ancient design principals. Examples on a smaller scale can be found in many European courtyards, as seen on the lower image to the right. The same problem still exists, the need to get water from a source to a place of need. Managing storm water runoff is a problem that still exists today. We have seen examples of how drainage from the hardscape (pavers, stone, granite, etc.) gets routed not to storm water drains, but to trees within the plaza spaces. Irrigation/ drainage canals, or runnels, are strategically placed to allow for maximum drainage potential for the space as well as maximum hydration potential for the plantings. Both of these examples have taught modern designers different ways of how to deal with water and how to route it to a specific destination. Many of the design ideas seen in these sustainable sites of the past are still being used today. Itís interesting to me that it seems we are in a society that has rediscovered and glorified the use of these elements in new design. While this is not a negative happening, it should have never come to this point.

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