Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Normally that phrase only applies to bodies of saltwater such as the ocean, but would you believe that it also applies to fresh water?
Taiwan has what many call a “water paradox.” The small island gets an absolutely drenching 98 inches of rainwater each year. To help put that into perspective, Washington DC averages at about 36 inches annually. Unfortunately, Taiwan is also classified by the United Nations as a water deficit country because the amount of rainwater that each citizen has access to is well below the international average. The problem is with Taiwan’s unique topography. The dense cities and hilly terrain cause the rainwater to quickly pour out into the ocean. That makes Taiwan one of the wettest and dries places on Earth. Crazy, isn’t it?
That’s why designers Kamjz Architects focused on water conservation when they came up with the design for the Taichung City Cultural Center. The skyscraper would act as a gigantic cistern, collecting clean rainwater where it can easily be filtered and consumed by locals. And believe it or not, the water tanks could actually help protect the building from earthquakes (another problem that plagues Taiwan). Architects believe that the water storage tanks could absorb seismic waves and offset the building’s natural vibrations.
Excuse me if I sound like an infomercial for a moment, but… That’s not all! The water tanks would also naturally cool the building and the surrounding area. Taiwan rises to a muggy 91° F in the summer months, which also happens to be the months with the heaviest rainfall. This naturally cooled building would offer Taiwanese citizens a chance to escape from the harsh sun and relax in a beautiful public space — all without ramping up electricity bills.
The architects hope to draw attention to the water problem plaguing Taiwan by transforming the inner space into a stunning natural garden. Skylights, trees, green walking paths, and lily pad-speckled pools of water would remind visitors of the importance and beauty of the natural environment.
Even the water storage tank itself would act as an art piece, casting a soothing blue light on the building’s library.
My absolute favorite feature of the building, though, is its facade. Each floor of the building juts outward, kind of like a layered cake. The platforms bend and twist to create natural waterfalls as rainwater gradually accumulates at the top of the building and spills from floor to floor. During particularly rainy days, the entire front of the building would resemble a massive concrete waterfall, reminding the people of Taiwan that rainwater is as beautiful as it is useful.
Water truly is the most incredible thing on planet earth. It’s everywhere, it’s essential for all life, it’s universally adored for its beauty, and it can be harnessed for power or for natural cooling. If you’re thinking about installing a custom aquascape in your home or office, don’t overlook the potential usefulness of water. Expose your aquascape to open air to keep your home naturally cool. Incorporate rainwater in your design to bring an element of natural beauty to your aquascape. Transform your aquascape into a water purifier that creates clean drinking water and looks good while doing it. Or, you could take a page out of Kamjz Architects’ book and do all three!