A/D/O by MINI | ​World Water Day and the Water Futures Challenge​



​World Water Day and the Water Futures Challenge​


World Water Day is a day to come together and take stock of this precious resource, to galvanize efforts to protect it, and to introduce strategies for the future. From mass plastic pollution to scarce drinking water, we are currently grappling with a range of water crises. 

For the past year, A/D/O has explored both the issues and solutions, inviting public discourse and collaboration through Water Futures, a series of events and talks curated by design critic, Jane Withers. A/D/O believes that good design is integral to solving everyday problems at a local and global scale, and sees designers as uniquely positioned to tackle the major water concerns through imaginative approaches that can influence public behavior.

 As part of the Water Futures program, A/D/O created an open design challenge inviting multidisciplinary designers and teams to imagine possible alternatives to how water is accessed, delivered, and thought about in cities. Out of 2,000 projects from 35 countries, the jury chose nine projects that address drinking water, our relationship to single use plastic, filtration, access, or communication of information. These nine individuals and teams were paired with a design mentor who helped refine their project. The final nine are inspiring, innovative, and hopeful.

Filtering Glass Straw

Ulysse Martel

The Filtering Glass Straw by Ulysse Martel tackles the drinking water crisis through a simple, lightweight, alternative to current plastic emergency-use filters. Its filter cartridge made of dried cilantro, activated charcoal, and moringa powder employs natural purifying methods used for hundreds of years.This low cost design could easily be transported, assembled, used, and reused in emergency situations all over the world.



To address the amount of waste generated by single use plastic and paper cups, CRÈME has developed the HY-O Cup, a product and method to grow cups out of gourds. Using a 3D printed mold of a cup, the gourd can be grown into the shape of the cup. Traditionally hollowed out and used for drinking, the gourd can now be harvested in cup form, reducing manufacturing, processing, and above all non-renewable waste. 



Indus by Bio-ID proposes to process wastewater generated by the textile industry in India using bioremediation. Indus is a modular system of veined tiles that can be filled with a seaweed-based and micro-algae hydrogel. When water flows over the ginkgo leaf shaped tiles, heavy metals can be isolated and compounds from textile dyes are degraded. These tiles are composed of locally sourced materials and can be easily installed.



Opacify by Post Carbon Lab proposes a labeling system that uses imagery and facts to sway consumer choices away from PET bottles. Like the horrific images tacked onto cigarette packs, negative and distressing images would be stamped onto PET bottles discouraging their use, conversely the labels could nudge consumers through positive encouragement on ways to be more sustainable. It asks the consumer to make the change.



What if all water we used was recycled, purified wastewater? Would you drink it? Using design fiction RARE by G2G imagines the future of urban society in light of water scarcity and high impact pollution through a series of fictional interviews and video reports. By situating the viewer in a future where everyone has a closed-loop water system installed in their house, they are provoking debate and instigating action.



Waters by Clara Schweers shows reverence and reframes our relationship to water by highlighting its cycles rather than its consumable use. A series of glass objects are filled with water Schweers has collected from around the world. As water evaporates, visible traces are left on the glass. This poetic visualization of the movements is a reminder that we all share water and that the water cycle is grounded in natural systems rather than anthropocentric needs.



Cape Town and New York, are among the major cities both surrounded by seawater and on the verge of drinking water scarcity, yet major desalination efforts are expensive and demand unsustainable amounts of energy. Water Everywhere by Assemble Mass proposes using traditional solar stills to generate heat to evaporate sea water and desalinate it. The design doubles as a rain catchment system and is intended to be a scalable lightweight infrastructure that could be installed along waterfronts globally.



The Water Map by Only If is a visual representation of the scales of water infrastructure that New Yorkers interact with daily such as drinking fountains, pools, and aqueducts. Conceived as an educational tool, the map surfaces otherwise invisible systems in a legible and compelling manner. It is a powerful resource with the potential to raise awareness and empower the concerned public.



In her project, The Water Runs Through Us, Katherine Ball envisions a fantastical filtration system that culminates in an immersive bathing ritual. This project simultaneously addresses our need to reconnect to water and proposes a method to transform water from the Bushwick Inlet. Water flows through a series of tanks containing beneficial bacteria, membrane filters, and biological filters and ultimately to a bathtub at A/D/O where visitors could take a dip. As dreamlike as it sounds, Ball has done a functional version of a similar installation at Berlin’s Floating University.

Text by Lily Saporta Tagiuri

Water Futures is a yearlong research program by A/D/O - curated by Jane Withers - that asks the question, "can designers solve the global drinking water crisis?" Learn more about Water Futures here.

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