Off-grid Autonomous Water System / A Common Ground / The Co-op experiment / The Substation / 1-29 February 2017

When talking about an autonomous art space, discussions tend to be about creating independent frameworks to creating, curating or funding. Maybe an autonomous art space can also be a space that is independent of grid infrastructure.

The Off-Grid Autonomous Water System is a crowd-built* water collection and cleansing system that engages with “commoning” natural resources for all. It will be split into three units designed to collect, filtrate, and act as a social space within The Substation. It will be located on the third floor of The Substation.

The project is expected to be an ongoing process: it will commence in February 2017 and undergo construction* over the rest of the month, allowing all who enter A Common Ground to witness and participate in the construction and development of the Off-Grid Autonomous Water System.

Summary Of Events

4th Feb:

Collecting Water / Discussion 01 (Anton Siura and Agnes Chain):
Kampung Admiralty is an integrated development that features innovative solutions of how stormwater management can be integrated into architecture. Various water sensitive urban design features have been carefully designed and integrated within the development. The rainwater runoff is channeled into various natural filtration before stored in rainwater harvesting tank, and reuse for irrigation of the planting within the development. The project have obtained PUB ABC Waters certification in 2016 for treating the runoff from 33% of the total site area.

Anton Siura and Agnes Chain are both currently working in Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl and are involved in the Kampung Admiralty project as landscape architects and stormwater management consultant.

Collecting Water / Mock Up (Terence Low):
The Rain Harvester Self-wick Planter is a great way for HDB or high-rise apartment dwellers to grow edibles in limited spaces i.e. corridors, balconies. It is a simple DIY system that up-cycles milk containers and some tubes. A system quite easy to scale upwards to grow alot vertically in real narrow places.

Terence Low started NAKEDGREENS, a community FB interest group inspired by the idea of no-pesticide, no-chemical growing of edible plants and greens. NAKEDGREENS is using food for medicine and food as medicine like how many of the traditional Asian cultures have practiced in Ayurveda, Jamu and TCM. Currently working on a new setup for St. John’s Elder Home, he is always working on bringing traditional foods like nonya sambal chilli and archar to a young crowd. He makes homemade batches of ginger balms and lavender clove mosquito repellents with natural ingredients.

5th Feb:

Collecting & Filtering Water / Discussion 02 (Chen Ko):
Chen Ko will be sharing his experiences from setting up rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling systems in SP Hilltop Library as part of the Solar Living Lab project some years back. The successes, challenges and difficulties will be discussed in this sharing session.

Chen Ko is currently a senior lecturer with the School of Chemical & Life Sciences in Singapore Polytechnic. He has worked on various projects on water quality with Nparks and PUB, and published the book, “Your First Guide to Water Quality Monitoring in Singapore” in collaboration with PUB.

You can check out his blog at here.

11th Feb:

Water Filtration / Discussion 03 (Do Phi Bang) : A presentation by Do Phi Bang on PUB’s ABC Waters Programme, biotopes and biofiltration.

Water Use / Discussion 04 : A sharing by Chu Hao Pei, an artist, who has been investigating the waterweed commonly known as hydrilla verticillata and how it led him on an unexpected journey towards uncovering the plant’s different properties.

CHU HAO PEI (b.1990) is an artist based in Singapore. Formally trained in Interactive Media, Hao Pei began his practice under the School of Art, Design & Media (ADM) in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His artistic process is increasingly informed by the ecological, social and shifting urban landscapes in the society which led him to explore issues concerning the intervention of a state, culture and nature. The conflicts and tensions arising from the interventions direct him on a fact-finding journey, uncovering various aesthetic strategies in the process. More critically, Hao Pei’s works examine the loss, or potential loss, of nature and cultural heritage as a tactic to draw attention to wider issues of environmental and cultural loss.

12th Feb:

Collecting & Filtration / Mock Up Sunday: A session that will pick up where was left off with some practical investigation and hands-on experimentation.

26th Feb:

Water Use / Discussion 05 (Ben Thum): In Nov 2009, together with his fellow neighbours, Ben started the first 2 plots for growing food and medicinal plants. Since then, his community garden has grown bigger, he has helped other community gardens, schools, corporations and welfare organisations to get started using his ideas and has won several awards from NParks.

In 2014, Singapore and the region experienced a severe drought. Ben realised that the normal gardening methods waste too much land, water and time. He destroyed all his plots and forced himself to re-evaluate and reinvent gardening. Since January 2015, he has not used a single drop of tap water for all his plants. In fact, his “Self-Irrigating Planters” (SIPs) collect and store more water than they need. Many of these SIPs are made from discarded PET Bottles and affordable parts. He also dabbled with Solar Panels to power the pumps needed for his “Vertical Aquaponics” and automatic irrigation systems. In 2016, he innovated a cost-effective way to compost his food wastes into potent fertilizers for his plants.

Besides constantly experimenting and reinventing solutions to be even more effective, Ben regularly holds talks and hands-on sharing sessions with those who are concerned about our environmental issues to encourage them to start growing their own nutrition and embark on the journey to be more “green”.

Water Use / Discussion 06 (Annabelle Lim): Annabelle is a strong believer in the butterfly effect, wherein one small ripple of action can have large effects. Part French-Vietnamese, she and her mum have embarked on projects to facilitate self-sufficiency in rural areas of Vietnam. A current milestone of theirs is installing a sustainable water treatment system for the villagers of Lang Tre, with the help of Lien Aid. She is currently undertaking an exciting gap year to write and weed out the hidden good in society before devoting herself to Law at UCL this fall.


More on the Co-op here.