You don't usually see the water-management infrastructure in a city--it flows from your tap then disappears down the drain. It might as well be magic. No wonder your average joe doesn't care about how vital water management is to a working city.
This week, architects Florian Boer and Marco Vermeulen are holding a seminar in Toronto on Waterpleinen, a solution to that problem, which they designed for Rotterdam. It's part of Water, a slate of symposiums and an exhibition at the University of Toronto, all dedicated to the ways that designers are reimagining water use.
The Rotterdam plan is brilliantly simple: Rather than hiding storm management systems underground, it turns them into a public park. Massive concrete playgrounds double as rainwater collectors; when they're not full, they are programmed with activities. When they are full, the snaking patterns in the concrete create funky reflecting pools.
It's not just an academic exercise, either. The idea, which Boer and Vermeulen proposed four years ago, is now an official policy in Rotterdam. Twenty five water parks are already planned, and a prototype is set to be installed soon.