Entangled with Water

Seeking to explore the socio-technical view on infrastructure, we look at the design process of water sensitive cities infrastructure in six informal settlements in Makassar, Indonesia.

Part 1
A photo-diary of Makassar is a glimpse into a formal and informal city that lies on a swampy estuary. From here, step into kampungs, places rich with life that rapidly change. Then, it is time to hear a story of 7 toilets, as an introduction of a design problem: water entanglements

Part 2
The design process that is focused on complex things and relations is not only about the tools for designing. Designers, panritas, are getting lost and found inside the maze of perspectives. We should explore things that are not usually told: the making and humming.

Part 3
If the water sensitive infrastructure is to be integrated in many futures, it needs to start communicating. Here is a wetland that tells about her journey. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Perhaps it is not surprising that we are entangled with water. It seems as though we are so entangled that we forgot what came first – the water, or the infrastructure that designed our entanglement. The idea of infrastructure as a thing is common – we have been designing pipes, toilets, septic tanks, water tanks and basins for decades. But infrastructure is simultaneously a relation between people and territory, people and nature, power and access, houses and bodies. Like the shapes of water – steam, ocean, mist, foam, holding fish, containing plastics, carrying sharks, cold, hot, oily, solid, ice, in the soil, in the air, in the bucket, swamp, river, tea, mineral, urine, rain, aquifer – we need to learn how to transform our design approaches to infrastructure.

This website represents a glimpse into the ethnographic and design research around infrastructure, water, sanitation and informal settlements. It provides a specific view into the design process of water sensitive infrastructure in informal settlements in Makassar, Indonesia. Entangled with Water is a result of doctoral research within the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments Program, between 2018 and 2021. It presents some of the key outcomes of this research and seeks to complement the written exegesis by also providing an insight into personal experience of designing and implementing the constellation of participatory design workshops across time and locations.

The material on this website seeks to expand a design process traditionally confined to a desk of an engineer. Here, the desk is multiplied and enlarged; it travels between locations and through time, and it changes its features to enable the capture of diverse perspectives: from men, women, youth, children, pipes, pumps, toilets, lorongs*, pamali*, wetlands, engineers, architects, scientists and funders.

Entangled with Water seeks to open a discussion about the participation of designers and architects in global challenges, beyond temporary installations and experiments, on the ground, with real people and places. What is their role in caring for the ecosystems and people of the future? A single, simple answer to this does not exist; rather, this website proposes reflective approach and attention to detail, from one conversation to another. It is a glimpse into the microcosmic realm of operation where, to design a 300 m2 wetland, every 25 cm of land needs to be negotiated.

The website was created by Dasha Spasojevic, PhD researcher at Monash Art Design Architecture (MADA) in Melbourne, Australia.

The work on the participatory design framework (Panrita) is a collaborative project in which many people were involved, mainly: Liza Marzaman, Nur Intan Putri, Noor Ilhamsyah, Adrianto Hidayat, Ihsan Latief, Diego Ramirez-Lovering, Matthew French, Michaela Prescott, and Kerrie Burge. 

The narratives for the videos were read by Salila O’Connor, Rosario Cassaniti, Patricia Bimboese, Fiona Barker, Jeremy Dore, Alicia Solofa, Trish Cahill, Nick Mason and Olga Swiderska.