Just how bad is the drought in California and throughout the Western United States? Bad. Very bad. According to various websites that maintain near-vigil drought reports on depleting water levels and cloud sightings, the main issue is global warming, which has caused four consecutive years of record-breaking warm winters.
California’s above-ground water supply derives primarily from snowpacked mountaintops that feed riverbeds and reservoirs. The snow shortage has led to the state tapping underground resources more aggressively, and these too are running dangerously low. In April, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order of mandatory water restriction use – and even that drastic measure has been described as “too little, too late.”
We have all seen shocking images of the rings left behind as rivers and lakes drain away like bathtubs. At Lake McClure the remaining water supply continues to drop by a foot every other day.
Architecture isn’t usually the first place to turn for solving water shortage crises, but as the Dry Futures competition brief explains: “We no longer have a choice. Water is not only a fundamental precondition for dwelling, but the manner in which we choose to build (or not) is pivotal to the future viability of entire regions of the world.
“Water may very well end up being the determining issue of the next century. Yet, increasingly, it feels that the discourse of the ‘smart city’ has overtaken all considerations of the future of architecture. How will ecological crises and technological advancement cohabitate the same future?”
Dry Futures, presented by Archinect, is now open to future-focused submissions in two categories, speculative proposals and pragmatic ones. Entrants don’t necessarily have to propose a piece of architecture; submissions can be in the form of any design that responds to drought. And you don’t need to be an architect to submit, or a resident of California.
The deadline is September 1 (10pm EST), and the jury winners will be announced September 14. Six winners will receive a custom survival kit curated by Archinect’s staff, which includes such life-sustaining tools as survival meals, water filtration cups and water storage containers.