Out And About Droughts

Space Saloon, Designers on Holiday will host design festival addressing California’s water scarcity

At last year's Space Saloon design-build festival, MILLIØNS led a workshop that concluded with a hempcrete bathing facility. (Zeo Legner/Courtesy Space Saloon)

The organizers of camp residency programs Space Saloon and Designers on Holiday have announced the launch of DeSaturated, an eight-day design-build festival in California’s Cuyama Valley, a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles. With the rugged high desert landscape as its backdrop, the “community-in-residence” program will draw attention to the state’s water scarcity. “Water shapes life,” its website states, “yet access to this resource is neither equitable nor just. Wildfires, droughts and severe floods have strained the state of California in the last decade, pointing out the limitations of territorial development that impose market logics on scarce and fragile resources.”

With participation from designers, artists, and researchers across the globe, DeSaturated will become a temporary think tank to investigate the state’s precarious relationship with water through site-specific building projects and hands-on educational workshops led by firms including Folly Feast Lab, Lauren MacDonald, Definitely Not Architecture, and NNASA. An office ca-led workshop titled Building Without Water, for example, will invite participants to experiment with bioplastics designed for low-cost 3D printing as alternatives to water-intensive building materials, while another led by Daniele Frazier, The Sound of Rain, will recall the history of the rain stick as a musical instrument used during droughts to produce an audio/visual meditation on the desaturated land.

The projects that result from the festival will collectively articulate the impact and cultural significance of California’s water scarcity crisis “in all its shades and forms.” Previous iterations of the two organizers’ respective festivals have taken on a wide variety of educational themes, including scientific field research, materiality, and the nature of hands-on education itself.

Participants will stay on the campus of Blue Sky Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting creative initiatives that will improve the creative and economic resources of the Cuyama Valley. DeSaturated will take place from May 23 to 31.

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