WATER CATHEDRAL - A NOVEL APPROACH TO CISTERN & DETENTION BASIN DESIGN

This award-winning project challenges the way we traditionally design stormwater detention ponds and may serve as a prototype for many others around the world. While many have become parks, the intentional reuse of collected stormwater is not common. Capturing and storing water vertically provides a new method for managing stormwater in the basin, adding 10% storage capacity without expanding the footprint. The Water Cathedral demonstrates how this might be done to create a place of refuge for urban inhabitants, human and nonhuman alike, while exploiting and celebrating the ephemeral storm events that activate the basin. The formal elements that make up this design are vertical “habitat cisterns”, designed to function like trees - soaking up water when available while also providing habitat for a variety of urban wildlife and storing enough stormwater to provide 100% of the irrigation needs. Resembling the ruins of a gothic cathedral, they establish the framework of this design, creating an experience through a promenade along a central axis to the drainage outlet of the pond as a focal point and art piece, symbolic of the preciousness of water in the desert. All aspects of the pond are designed to increase infiltration, water capture and storage, sustain and increase vegetation and biodiversity, educate, and provide a public amenity all while allowing for periodic maintenance for debris and sediment removal.