By Pari Syal
Photography: Courtesy MARS Architects
A seat for four is also a storage tank for 500 litres of water – will the Water Bench help ease the water woes of Mumbai? Find out in a discussion with the architect at Studio X…
Six months ago, in a bid to question the status quo of Mumbai as a complete city, the touring initiative - the BMW Guggenheim Lab project, brought to light many a discrepancy and shortcomings of a city crippled by pollution, poverty and urban fragmentation, bypassing a planning system defined by political inertness and skewed public funding.
Addressing its manifold issues, Ar. Neville Mars from Shanghai, a participant of the project, developed ecology of solutions that address the most urgent issues from access to drinking water, to public space and transportation. As part of a comprehensive and radical urban vision, these pilot projects have become the new planning principles of a ‘Manifesto United Mumbai’.
The first outcome of this progressive exchange – the Water Bench – the prototype of which is to be launched tomorrow at Studio X in Mumbai, introduces a new way of thinking that combines different functionalities and objectives within a single design. The Water Bench aims to bring costs down by combining standard outdoor furniture with water storage functionality. With each bench, parks and public spaces can become more water independent.
Attempting to provide a holistic solution, it is conceptualized in three variations - Double unit, single-fixed and single-movable units that propose to cater to parks, urban landscapes and street solutions as well as terrace gardens and private yards, providing a 360 degree solution. Approximately 2.1 metres long and 0.9 metres wide, each bench is a water harvesting capsule made of partially recycled polyethylene with a chesterfield pattern and inlet buttons. Rainwater can trickle into the capsule-bottomed bench through these button inlets and accessed through a tap at the base of one of its legs. Here the water is simply collected and reused, while the bench does not get wet.
With a 500 litre capacity that can be stretched to 1,800 litres by connecting it to a similar bench unit below the ground, the bench requires no special installation.
Shipped into the city from China, two benches will be installed at Horniman Circle garden and two at Cross Maidan garden out of the eight benches to be installed in Mumbai on a one-year trial period. Mars Architects also propose to implement the experiment in other parts of the city and in other cities across the globe.
Prototypes of change for BMW Guggenheim in Mumbai. This page is dedicated to the proposals developed by MARS Architects for the the BMW Guggenheim Lab Mumbai, a mobile laboratory traveling to cities worldwide.