By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries with absolute water scarcity.*

The A/D/O Water Futures Research Program, curated by Jane Withers, addresses and explores the drinking water crisis and asks: “How can design help address this in the future?”

Responding both to tensions around access to clean drinking water in the urban environment and the shift for cities to ban single use disposable plastic bottles, Water Futures aims to inspire the creative community to take action in reimagining our toxic drinking water culture.

*UN World Water Development Report 2012

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Program Calendar

Water Futures offers three seasons of public programming that run through the year, each focusing on a different topic surrounding drinking water. Leading water experts from the fields of engineering, design, science, architecture, and art present integrated approaches to address today’s most pressing water issues.

Exploring issues such as efficiency and self-sufficiency and encouraging using ‘off-grid’ mechanisms to harvest, collect, store and distribute water in both dry and wet climates.

Exploring water quality and water as a living element. The challenges and technologies for cleaning water, from products for emergency use to reusing wastewater on site.

We used to store water in terracotta vessels, gourds, and skins, as well as, bottles, jars, and flasks. How can designers help reimagine ways to deliver water in cities as an alternative to single-use plastic bottles?

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Current Programming



The A/D/O Water Futures Design Challenge called on multidisciplinary design teams to create new proposals that reshape the future of drinking water in the urban environment. Over 2,000 designers from more than 30 countries submitted ideas and designs. Nine shortlisted finalists from three categories will continue to develop their proposals with the help of mentors and experts in their respective categories. Winners from each category will win $15,000, with all nine semi-finalists invited to showcase their research and works at a closing exhibit in March 2019 in Brooklyn.

Shortlisted finalists by category:
Systems & Infrastructure: Katherine Ball, Assemble Mass, BiotA Lab

Objects & Materials: CRÈME Jun Aizaki Architecture and Design, Ulysse Martel, Clara Schweers

Information & Communication: Guillaume Berthillier & Gaëtan Robert, Only If, Dian-Jen Lin & Hannes Hulstaert

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Jane Withers is a leading design consultant, curator, and writer. Her London-based studio works with cultural and commercial clients to shape design-led strategies, programs and exhibitions that bring innovative design thinking to address social, cultural and commercial challenges. Jane has created critically acclaimed exhibitions and events at the V&A Museum and Royal Academy of Arts among many others.

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Program Partners

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November 2018
A brilliant hack for New York City's water hydrants (Fast Company)
New Public Hydrant would let New Yorkers drink from city water mains (Dezeen)
Architecture Firm Ooze Harnesses Natural Systems to Solve Freshwater Crises (Metropolis Magazine)

October 2018
Meet the Finalists of A/D/O's Water Futures Design Challenge (Core77)
We’ve picked our favourite entries from A/D/O’s Water Future Design Challenge (It's Nice That)

July 2018
Columbia professor Anthony Acciavatti on the technical engineering of India’s sacred river (The Architects Magazine)

March 2018                                                                                  
A/D/O’s Water Futures Design Challenge asks creatives to solve our global water crisis (It's Nice That)
Water Futures: Designing Sustainable Systems (Stylus)
In the frame: standout designs from around the globe (Wallpaper)
A/D/O's Water Futures: A Safe Space for Scientists and Designers to Address Our Water Crisis, Together (Core77)
A/D/O Calls on Designers to Imagine the Future of Drinking Water (Dezeen)
Design the Future of Drinking Water with Jane Withers and A/D/O (Mold)
'It's Crazy, We've Had Enough.' Designers Need to Tackle the Environmental Mess They've Made (Fortune)

December 2017
Brooklyn’s A/D/O Focuses on Using Design to Solve Drinking Water Crises (Architectural Digest)
Design Miami 2017, Watchword: Hybridization (Domus)
A/D/O to Launch Research Program on Designing for Human Needs (Dexigner)
A/D/O launches Water Futures research programme to develop better designs for drinking (Dezeen)