This month, Columbia GSAPP Professor and award-winning author Anthony Acciavatti returned to A/D/O with artist and architecture historian Esther Choi to lead an interactive workshop that explored the politics of sharing, consuming and caring for water in its many states.

Using the Ganges River in India as their point of inspiration, Acciaviatti and Choi led participants through a series of performative thought experiments set against the backdrop of the Himalayas.

Said to be one of the most polluted and dying rivers in the world, the Ganges is also revered by millions as sacred. During this workshop, attendees were invited to recreate the cyclical descent and ascent of the Ganges by using their body as a vessel for transporting water in a sequence of participatory episodes that transformed the politics of caring for and sharing water into an experiential, collective enterprise. Throughout the evening, Acciavatti and Choi spoke about both the sanctity of the Ganga River and the myriad issues it faces today.

By encouraging guests to view themselves as operators of the water that passes to and from their hands, Acciaviatti and Choi brought to life a rich cultural landscape that depicted both the sacred symbolism of the Ganga as well as the realities of contamination and its unequal access and distribution amongst the people living along her banks.

In doing so, this event encouraged new ways of thinking about our relationship with water and what it means to be a steward of our most precious commodity.


Anthony Acciavatti is an architect and historian of science and technology based in New York City. He has spent over a decade walking, boating, and driving across the Ganges River basin to better understand conflicts over water for drinking, agriculture, and industry. He is the author of Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River, the first comprehensive mapping and environmental history of the Ganges in half a century.

Esther Choi is a Canadian artist and architecture historian based in New York City. Her work explores how the histories and artifacts of architecture and design can perform as devices to facilitate real-time processes and exchanges. Through her artwork, books and writing, Choi approaches the built and managed environments as constructs produced through relations and structures of power, and tools to examine the politics of sociability in the present.


This event was part of an ongoing series of events, lectures and workshops for the A/D/O #WaterFutures Research Program - a yearlong investment challenging designers to research, concept and ideate scalable solutions to the global drinking water crisis.

November 28, 2018
12:00 am — 11:59 pm
A global community of creators empowered by MINI to boldly explore the future of design.