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Moldable water

With the power of clay and the flow of Dutch rivers, we shape a new era of water management.

Project details

Bachelor – Transformation Design
Commercial Practices
Materials & Systems

It is not a given that the Netherlands will remain habitable in the future. Climate change is causing rising water levels, bringing significant challenges. My family experienced this firsthand when my mother was heavily pregnant with me. They were forced to evacuate from the Dutch town of Druten because the municipality feared that the dikes would give way due to high water levels. This story made me reflect on the vulnerable ground on which I was born in the Netherlands. It underscores the fragility of Dutch water management and the urgency of finding solutions.

With increasing rainfall in the future, rivers in the Netherlands will deposit more clay in the floodplains. This clay must be extracted to give the river enough space. At the same time, old neighborhoods, due to their extensive use of stone, are not well-prepared to handle future amounts of rainfall and the high temperatures brought by climate change. These neighborhoods, also known as focus areas, face challenges such as the impact of climate change on the water resilience of their infrastructure.

The project investigates how clay from one place can be effectively extracted and used in another place. Together with a focus neighborhood in the Netherlands, this issue was addressed. The project also explored how river clay can be extracted, processed, and applied in rainwater systems. A technique was devised to shape the extracted clay without adding other materials, with repetition and accessible production methods as key requirements. This makes it possible to provide multiple neighborhoods in the Netherlands with water management systems.

The results show that river clay has great potential to make urban environments more water-friendly and sustainable in the face of climate change. Moldable Water demonstrates the necessity of thinking about effective water management systems that can make the future of both river areas and our cities safer and more sustainable.