Jason Hyde

Rainy days go away

Summers in Florida are not your typical sunny, beach mood months. Yes, the sunny state is a great location for your summer vacation, if you also like rain, that is. August particularly seats at the center of the hurricane season, and generally speaking the residents of South Florida get flooding and thunderstorm warnings every other week during the summer.

Well, that doesn’t sound like a fun summer get away, you might think. But, environmentally speaking it’s a huge opportunity. An invitation to see rain with different eyes. Some people really like rain (ask kids, for instance), but also, it’s this gift that in some parts of the world comes after weeks or months of drought. I mean, we don’t have rain dances for nothing. So, if we as a species are already using so much of the earth’s resources why not also, take advantage of rain?.

This is something the architectural firm Foster Partners brought to the front and center when designing Aventura Mall’s Apple store. At first, the project looked nothing like an F+P signature project, but this was on purpose. Breaking out of their glass-box type design, the building is defined by a vaulted roof that Foster + Partners says reflects Miami’s nautical roots, though also cites Art Deco architecture and even Apple Park as an influence. It features an integrated rainwater capture system that reduces the building’s potable water consumption by around 170,000 gallons (650,000 liters) per year, according to the firm. 

While architecture keeps evolving and becoming more tech-smart, the goal should be to grow the industry in the direction of sustainability, making building materials more and more eco-friendly and incorporating features that not only make life easier for the people that inhabit these spaces, but that also gives structure and form a goal that goes beyond the wildest dreams of last centuries architects. That being said, how we use, distribute, collect, dispose of and treat water is one of the most groundbreaking advances in architecture and civil engineering and it has happened recently (think aqueducts and sewage systems) so it only makes sense that we keep moving forward and stop wasting time (and water).

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