The Future is Fluid

About the Speaker
Dr Ashraf is an architect, urbanist, and architectural historian. He has taught at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Pratt Institute in the USA. He is the author of numerous publications including The Hermit’s Hut: Architecture and Asceticism in India (2012), An Architect in Bangladesh: Conversations with Muzharul Islam (2014) and Designing Dhaka: A Manifesto for a BetterCity (2012). His essays and articles have appeared in the Architectural Review, Architectural Design, Topos, Economic and Political Weekly, and other periodicals. He is the editor of the new series Locations: Anthology of Architecture and Urbanism.

About the Talk
Whether framed through political ecology or literature, water remains an existential theme. If catastrophes and perils can be said to determine design motivations in the 21st century, water is certainly up there among the concerns facing humanity – whether through the threat of sea-level rise, the depletion of coastal cities and communities, including tidal surges, as a bearer of hazardous contamination, or through the very fact of scarcity. Water is already a narrative in determining strategies in design. As a constructive tool, the term “waterness” might be a better qualifier than “aquatic,” “liquid,” or “hydraulic.” In overcoming the deep dichotomy of wet and dry ideologies, and the longstanding prejudice for dry land in architectural practice, new approaches may demand involve a different strategy.