In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Watering Poles

As part of the AJ Kiosk challenge, we have proposed Watering Poles as the contemporary kiosks for London.

Without the philanthropic acts of a sultan or need for a water tank, the kiosk is simply a tap. They needn’t be large but water points would need to be easily locatable in London's intricate urban grain.

As humans our daily lives depend on a sufficient water supply and when free, convenient drinking water is unavailable we are forced to buy it at hugely inflated prices. Buying bottled water is not only expensive, its manufacture, transport and disposal all have a detrimental effect on the environment.

The watering pole facilitates the growing trend of refilling water bottles by developing a network of drinking taps throughout the city. Each pole is located in what has been identified as a ‘hot-spot’ location. 

By allowing free water to be accessed conveniently, each watering pole also encourages people to collect around a focal point, creating new gathering and social spaces in the city.

The poles vary in height according to the surrounding context and building heights, allowing them to be seen through crowds from afar. Each pole is made from one repeated tile element – the Ataturk Tile.

Each tile is individually glazed to create unique patterns for each watering pole. Humans, plants and wildlife alike are encouraged to inhabit the poles, which become mini urban oases throughout the city.

2.27 billion litres of bottled water is sold in the UK each year - the equivalent of 56 bottles per person!

Bottled water costs on average 500 times more than tap water, yet 30% of bottled water sold in UK supermarkets is just repackaged tap water.

So why is the sale of bottled water still increasing? Convenience? Taste? Advertising? Fashion?

Bottled water isn’t just expensive for the consumer, to offset the footprint of imported water to the UK, we would need to plant more than 30,000 trees each year.

But it is not just the manufacture and transportation of bottled water that is harmful. Ever wondered where that bottle you just threw away will end up? 80% of plastic bottles in the UK end up in landfill, and they take over 400 years to degrade. That means that the plastic water bottle you drank from today won’t degrade until 2414. That’s when your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will be alive!

From the village well, to the Turkish Kiosk, the British Pub, or the modern-day office water cooler, drinking and gathering have developed hand in hand the world-over.

The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association was set up in London in 1859, to provide free drinking water. 

The society now exists as The Drinking Fountain Association, and has most recently initiated The Find a Fountain Project, which maps the existing water fountains in London. The project shows that there are still many dry spots in the city where it is impossible to fill your bottle – an obstacle to facilitating change. We were particularly interested to find one such water-fountain drought within what is arguably one of London’s most famous drinking spot: Soho. 

Soho sits at the heart of London’s densely built up urban area and is home to many pubs, bars, cafés and clubs. We undertook a study looking at the various constraints within Soho, including planning constraints, view corridors, road systems, pedestrian routes, cycle routes, and legible London spots to identify maximum usability hot spots within Soho, where the watering poles would be best located. The Watering Poles subsequently become an easily identifiable network of places for people to both congregate and refill empty bottles.