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To Make Buildings More Sustainable, Put Water Pipes on the Outside

A design model from two Carnegie Mellon students couples environmental conservation with a striking aesthetic.
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Sophie Nahrmann and Sinan Goral

Residential water pipes are often overlooked as a key component of urban infrastructure, with the ongoing Flint water crisis serving as perhaps the most egregious example. One major factor is that cities have been notoriously slow to develop and implement new technology to replace their aging pipe systems. Another, according to a new project by two Carnegie Mellon students, is that these pipes remain hidden from view.

In a project named the “Most Innovative” by the Flux Emerging Architects Design Competition, students Sophie Nahrmann and Sinan Goral set out to “reverse-engineer” typical building infrastructure. To accomplish this, the pair designed an ecologically friendly boarding school, aptly named the “Ecoschool,” which features pipes on the outside of the buildings as a stark visual reminder of their critical role in urban development. More specifically, the design might prompt urbanites to think concertedly about how much energy and natural resources they are consuming on a daily basis.