Unearthing and Reversing: Exhausting the Water Cycle

Schilling Cuellar, Linda. 2023. Unearthing and Reversing: Exhausting the Water Cycle. In: Marcelo López-Dinardi, ed. Architecture from Public to Commons. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781032394480 [Book Section]

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It started with pre-Columbian irrigation ditches, which played a significant role in building Chilean cities. These were followed by reservoirs upstream of important agricultural valleys that constitute our food basket. Then, the reservoirs grew to become large-scale dams that promised energy and progress. But all that progress did nothing to stop water shortages facing us today with a new offspring of technofixes, the desalination plants, and the next cycle of water infrastructures to intervene in the water cycle.

This chapter examines the discrete and atomized public works that re-routed water designing city grids to now facing the dawn of private facilities closed off to the public reversing the water cycle. The infrastructures were designed to keep agricultural and industrial business as usual for a few elites exhibiting “the gluttony of having so much.” Many privately owned, they constitute a new inception of technological ingenuity that does not address the mismanagement of the resource but instead opens up space for sacred entrepreneurship.

In a country where knowledge about our landscape and resources is as scarce as the water we now seek to obtain from the ocean, there needs to be a consideration of the ecological impacts these facilities can have on marine ecosystems and livelihoods.

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“This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in 'Architecture from Public to Commons' on 1 December 2023, available online: https://www.routledge.com/Architecture-from-Public-to-Commons/Lopez-Dinardi/p/book/9781032394459. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.”

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Visual Cultures


1 December 2023Published

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09 Jan 2024 10:08

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10 Jan 2024 15:37



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