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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Josh Ritchie

A map generated using all the water ways of the UK from data from the Environment Agency
A photograph of water contained in a basin of dry and cracked earth.

“Water is alien.” - Fin Jordao - Cat Natural Resources Water Officer 2022

Water is more than just a commodity, but an essential ingredient for life originally transported to the living Earth as ice, during the Late Heavy Bombardment.  It is both a figurative and literal time traveller, being able to shift form to allow transportation across spacetime, but also hold memory or data from occurrences upstream, as well as moments throughout the hydrological cycle that encompass our planet. Currently, cultural practices and access to water are being constrained due to commodification based on categorisation of water as a predominantly a resource or a chemical substance; H20.

By exposing and critiquing the spatial interventions currently dictated within an area of historic conservation within the New Forest, my project aims to explore and expand definitions of water via a sensorial practice and methodology. Not only is the Avon Water body an indicator of pollution present within the protected “catchment area” but by exploring practices of hydro-sensing by following the river path, the body of water breaks away from defined boundaries labelled in traditional mapping, often found in over engineered spaces. Thus, we can explore the ways in which bodies of water may be engaging with us in broader forms of communication to allow greater protection across boundaries.

A map of the catchment area of the New Forest with the UK Water Ways

Water ways and rivers are not restricted by geo-political boundaries, and the New Forest catchment area is of no exception. While different groups and government bodies can often only concern themselves with specific areas, water continues to flow into and out of these catchment zones.

In this way water is an interconnected network and classification of these water ways or rivers is often restrictive; unable to clearly show how water moves across drainage basins, topography and state lines.

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