The GROHE Water Prize awards visionary projects that are pushing the boundaries of design within the built environment and water. GROHE will award £10,000 to the winning project to help enhance the scheme.

2023 winner: Netherlands practice UArchitects has won this year’s GROHE Water Prize with a proposal for ‘microcolonies’ of floating platforms in Bangladesh, intended to cope with extreme weather events, combat poverty and provide a new model of how communities can address the challenges of climate change.

The annual prize, launched six years ago in conjunction with World Architecture Festival (WAF), was presented at WAF 2023 in Singapore (29 November to 1 December 2023).

Misak Terzibasiyan from UArchitects describes the proposal as a scaling up of a basic ‘microhome’ unit, to allow for the growing of food and even raising of livestock on connected platforms, with a community hub created to provide services (such as education and storage) to clusters of family homes. He notes that clean water production is also of great importance for this micro-colony, necessitating additional in-depth research to find the best technical and cost-effective solution for providing water for consumption.

A development plan and construction sequencing form part of the proposal, which envisages the £10,000 prize money being used in conjunction with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and the Government of Bangladesh. There will also be close coordination with the Foreign Affairs department of the Netherlands, the Dutch embassy in Dhaka, and the architecture department of the Technical University, Eindhoven.

‘This pilot project can be a milestone in adapting to climate change through self-sustaining floating communities’, says the architect.

The judges admired the proposal for its social and economic ambition as well as its design proposition – simultaneously fighting poverty and climate change in a country where extreme weather events can impoverish communities overnight. They also liked the attitude of the project to water, regarding it as something to be embraced and used, rather than resisted and feared.

GROHE Water Prize 2023 judges were: Antoine Besseyre des Horts and Patrick Speck, LIXIL design leaders respectively for the Asia Pacific and Europe/Middle East/North Africa regions; Jeremy Melvin, WAF Curator; and Paul Finch, WAF Programme Director.