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Rethinking water: a CAAS (city as a spaceship) design approach.

Fairburn, Susan; Imhof, Barbara; Mohanty, Susmita


Susan Fairburn

Barbara Imhof

Susmita Mohanty


Loredana Di Lucchio

Lorenzo Imbesi

Paul Atkinson


Water is ubiquitous and essential, yet we struggle to understand it from a systems perspective. Water is a terrestrial closed-loop system involving individuals, communities, cities and geographies, and as such, might it serve as a metaphor for sustainable design? We identify four locations and frame their connections through water and society. This interaction is highly relevant to future dense urban environments and of interest to CAAS (City As A Spaceship) who explore reciprocities between terrestrial and extra-terrestrial architecture and design. CAAS explores these approaches to water management: 1) California State (United States); 2) New Delhi (India); 3) The International Space Station (Lower Earth Orbit); 4) Micro-Ecological Life-Support System Alternative (European Space Agency Research settings). In this paper, CAAS applies design research approaches to curate and frame reciprocities between situations and societies. Using locational case studies and city-by-city scale infographics it generates a discursive space from which to imagine conceptual shifts in sustainable design.


FAIRBURN, S., IMHOF, B. and MOHANTY, S. 2017. Rethinking water: a CAAS (city as a spaceship) design approach. The design journal [online], 20(Sup1): proceedings of the 12th European Academy of Design conference: design for next, 12-14 April 2017, Sapienza, Italy, pages S1904-S1915. Available from:

Conference Name 12th European Academy of Design conference
Conference Location Sapienza, Italy
Start Date Apr 12, 2017
End Date Apr 14, 2017
Acceptance Date Apr 12, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 6, 2017
Publication Date Sep 6, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2017
Publicly Available Date Sep 14, 2017
Journal Design journal
Print ISSN 1460-6925
Electronic ISSN 1756-3062
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Volume 20
Issue Supplement 1
Pages S1904-S1915
Series ISSN 1756-3062
ISBN 9781138090231
Keywords Water; Resource management; Reciprocity; City; Spaceship
Public URL


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