Conservation of rain water is a major part of creating sustainable architecture in projects that a Kenyan architect requires to consider. One would find that any fresh water that is incident to a site needs to be handled with care and its usage carefully regulated to eliminate wastage. Treated piped water supply typically has its costs attached to it. However natural water either through rainfall or water from a natural water body on a site is a free resource that can be of great benefit if properly utilized.
Water sustainability for the Kenyan Architect, Dealing with Wet Lands
Wetlands are basically natural water resources or a water body that is located on a given site or property. Wetlands may take various forms including being an expansive lake or swamp or a meandering river or bubbling stream. Wetlands can be incident in natural form, being defined without any of man’s interference A good example is a natural swamp or lake that exists on a given parcel of land. At the same time they may exist in a more controlled setting, for example within a canal or dam which has been dredged by man for his own purposes.
Care for Wetlands and Riparian Resources, part of a Kenyan Architect’s design responsibility.
Having wetlands on your property can be a major advantage as regards water supply. In many cases, a property owner may be compelled to observe certain regulations as regards riparian reserves and wetland resources. Land may be difficult to optimize in this case, as one may not be allowed to develop their property near the water course. This poses a design challenge as the Kenyan architect and planner must ensure that the quality of their designed environment complies with environmental by-laws and building regulations. However, if the water body can be harnessed to provide water to the site, this can be an invaluable asset during the lifespan of that facility.
There have been interesting uses of wetlands to ensure sustainability on a property or site. Free flowing water for example provides a useful tool for generating electricity at a smaller scale for a development. Depending on the capacity of the river or stream, this can be used to power a building complex, and can be a useful mode of alleviating power supply demands in a built facility. The energy from a falling waterfall can run a generating plant in this regard.
There also exists the obvious advantage of the presence of water on a site sufficient to irrigate land and vegetation. Arable land can be made more productive with a steady flow of water to enhance irrigation efforts. It is a fact that farms on properties that are located near riparian resources are more attractive and expensive than those which are not. Similarly urban sites can be able to enjoy great landscaping possibilities when landscaping is undertaken with the presence of abundant water supplies.
Wetlands are most useful when they have not been contaminated by industrial waste or garbage dumping. They can provide pleasant spaces for relaxation and leisure. In addition, if properly utilized, a wetland can be a good source of potable and non-potable water for use on the site, including providing for natural cooling of buildings. Use of this water on fountains for example can be a good sustainable source of natural water without incurring the cost of water supply. Cooling water droplets from the fountains provide cooling through condensation on the building’s facades, hence cooling down the building in hot weather.
The How To’s of Maximizing Wetlands, Tips for the Kenyan Architect
Water resources from wetlands also provide important sustenance to the vegetation on site, and allow for growth of natural species that define the ambiance of a particular location. The Kenyan architect who is interested in planning a site must be able to integrate the requirements of a site together with the need to preserve any wetlands that are on the site. Only in very extreme circumstances should it be necessary to move the wetlands away from the site, as this would be tantamount to environmental degradation.
The locations of new proposed buildings and site uses should therefore be carried out in relation to the existing wetland, rather than forcing the wetland or riparian resource to conform to the proposed development. Best practice would be to carry out cosmetic modification to the wetland to uplift the quality of its boundaries, edges and channels in order to match a proposed facility, without actually interfering with the flow or quantity of the water body.
Conservation of our wetlands is an important part of environmental design. One should look at the wetland environment as part of a broad external space that needs to be conserved as well as enhanced. The Kenyan architect should engage their design skills in a manner as to ensure that they are complementing the quality of the natural environment rather than degrading it, or simply changing it all together to replace it with a built environment.