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UCLA Graduate Students And MADWORKSHOP Developed “Succulent Walls” To Ease Water Crisis


UCLA Graduate Students and MADWORKSHOP developed

PLANE-SITE has released a new video, exploring how scalable, easy-to-install rainwater storage could ease Southern California’s water crisis. With its precarious relationship to water and lack of disaster preparedness, Southern California is in need of innovative architectural ideas that are simple to integrate into everyday life. 

A new short video follows graduate students from a research seminar at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design, led by Chair and Associate Professor Heather Roberge, in collaboration with Mary and David Martin’s MADWORKSHOP, as they unveil two prototypes that present a potential solution: Succulent Walls.

Video courtesy of MADWORKSHOP

Currently, most rainwater is lost to storm-water collection rather than captured for landscape irrigation or other non-potable domestic uses. The Succulent Wall prototypes are easy-to-install water catchment systems that provide dual benefits: the storage of water, a critical and finite resource, and sustainable residential gardening. Each prototype is designed to capture rainwater from the roofs of single-family homes and channel it into dedicated storage bladders. 

UCLA Graduate Students and MADWORKSHOP developed

From there, both prototypes direct the collected water to storage for emergencies and to the irrigation of a garden wall. One prototype adds a third use, directing filtered water to an interior bladder that makes visible one’s water use above a basin for washing. 

UCLA Graduate Students and MADWORKSHOP developed

In times of drought, the Succulent Walls’ rainwater reserves may serve non-potable uses, reducing reliance on municipal water supplies. Both projects store 50 gallons of water reserve: enough to last a family 14 days in the event of an emergency or seismic event.

The two prototypes are designed to function as off-the-shelf and fully-scalable solutions that anyone can install at home.

Students who worked on this project: Christopher Doerr, Daniel Greteman, Ian Rodgers, Caroline Watts, Jenny Zhou, Nichole Tortorici, Talia Landes, Xiangkun Hu, Xihan Lyu, Xinwen Zhang, Yiran Chen.

Mary and David Martin’s MADWORKSHOP is a design education foundation. The foundation supports technological craftsmanship through university partnerships and an immersive fellowship program.

All images © Buddy Bleckley, courtesy of MADWORKSHOP