Anacostia Aqua Tower

Anacostia, DC
Public Infrastructure
Credit List:
Höweler + Yoon Architecture, Eric Höweler, J. Meejin Yoon, Sungwoo Jang

Historically, the source of water for a community was a spring or a well, which also functioned as a community gathering place where neighbors would gather, business was conducted and fresh water was distributed. Today we find ourselves out of touch with sources of water and from the associated community-building aspects of water resources. This design proposal for the aesthetic mitigation of a water tower reclaims the community function of a water resource by creating a park and ecological landscape around a new water tower. The proposal includes a series of terraced landscapes to ring the tower with a water filtration landscape known as a “living machine.” 

The stepped concentric rings form a series of bioswales and an ecological “living machine,” using plantings to filter water and make the filtration process visible to the community. Due to gravity’s interaction with water flow, a water tower must be placed at a very prominent elevated location. The design is understood as a new kind of monument that is the product of its process - the collection, and processing of water for the surrounding community. This proposal for the water tower shell and its active landscape highlight the water cycle process.

This design is conceived as a visual intermediary, communicating the water tower’s function as well as acting as a place-maker and monument. The design wraps the functional water tower within a new structural shell that can be seen from great distances as well as up close. Individual cells follow the shell’s hyperboloid structure, embracing the form of the water tower within while not completely masking its surface. This proposal for the Anacostia Water Tower seeks to provide a much-needed community resource and water infrastructure while creating a new landmark for the proposed site, the Anacostia community of D.C.