Hidden depths

Water is glorious – but intimidating

Go with the flow is not always a relaxing command. Would you be swept along by the mill race, the high drop of the dam spillway, the rapids of an Olympic white water course? The fine bullets of spray are a warning of the awesome power of a fast moving stream. The dribbles of modern landscape design have nothing on this invigorating sight. The exciting stuff - channeling water, capturing its power, taming it, bridging over it - is normally the purview of engineers while architects are left on drip details. Carlo Scarpa might manage it in frequently flooded Venice. And in Holland Anne Holtrop Studio has used the structures of the nation’s water defences to tell their story while designing an outsized model showing how dykes and gates brought water gushing to Holland’s defence (p16). It is hard to find such excuses, but just imagine if we could borrow the elemental energy (and jeopardy) of water.