The Watershed House: A Water Harvesting Prototype for Vulnerable Communities | The Plan Journal

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Dahlia Nduom
Martín Paddack

A potential answer to the call for a human right to sustainable and equitable housing, water access, and environmental justice may be found in the wings of a desert beetle. This paper presents a housing prototype integrating various water harvesting strategies and biomimetic solutions derived from the Namib beetle. An exploration of issues at the intersection of water access and equitable housing is presented through a literature review that demonstrates how housing conditions, access, and affordability are linked to a lack of infrastructural services, including water, which has subsequent health implications. The paper reviews both passive and active water harvesting opportunities for architectural integration. The paper concludes with a description of the prototype through a case study addressing the housing and water access needs of colonias communities in Texas, and sheds light on water access and housing affordability challenges, proposing architectural and policy strategies to address these issues. The speculative housing prototype integrates water harvesting solutions using a prefabricated kit of parts approach allowing for flexibility and adaptability across various communities where centralized infrastructure is technically or economically not feasible.