WATERSCHOOL’s Garden of Delight in Alcova Milan

We are delighted to invite you to the upcoming WATERSCHOOL during the Milan Design Week and Fuorisalone from Sunday 5 June — Sunday 12 June 2022. You can find us in fabulous Alcova, a former factory building. The ex-industrial space is partly taken over by plants and vegetation, giving it a state of poetic semi-abondonment.

It is here that we present WATERSCHOOL’s Garden of Delight, WATERSCHOOL’s site-based research and the ‘learning by doing’ approach focusing on Rotterdam’s Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H) harbour district, in which the city plans to build some 3,000 (live-work) dwellings for approximately 6,300 people in the near future.


In an intimate and personal setting, we will personally guide you through the Garden, connecting it to the Rotterdam M4H district, illustrating what a new living and working environment could look like when its development is guided by a resource use that ensures a fair interaction between all organisms, communities, and their environment.

Together with selected Rotterdam-based designers, architects, artists, the exhibition, supported by Stichting Droom en Daad, contributes to a sustainable, circular and regenerative learning environment in order to meet our looming ecological challenges.

At WATERSCHOOL Milan we will also have an extended series of lectures, workshops and presentations. We will keep you updated on dates and time schedules here. Keep an eye on our Instagram account for more details too.

WaterSchool at Alcova Milano

Sunday 5 June — Sunday 12 June 2022
Opening hours: 11 am – 7 pm
Opening event: Thursday 9 June 8 pm – 1.30 am (RSVP only)
Venue Alcova: Via Simone Saint Bon 1, 20147, Milano

For more information and program

Invitation Milan Alcova 2022

Presskit Milan Alcova 2022

Participants Milan Alcova 2022

Interesting links

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The WaterSchool, a self-initiated project of Studio Makkink & Bey (smb), is a speculative school designed and organised around water as an essential material, subject and social and political phenomenon.

It proposes rethinking of the economic and infrastructural model of education. WaterSchool is displayed in working exhibitions around the globe, meanwhile building a curriculum for the subjects to be taught (education) and constructing all spaces needed separately (architecture).


WaterSchool proposes a rethinking of the economic and infrastructural model of education: this school could produce everything it needs to function onsite through small-scale industrial collaborations with selected designers/artists.

Within the framework of exhibitions, Studio Makkink & Bey acts as a curator, inviting upcoming artists/designers to present their work in thematic exhibitions and series of lectures. Through uniting works within a speculative framework, Studio Makkink & Bey hints towards a future in which art and design are more integrated into education and life in general. In the exhibitions, projects are categorised according to themes, being Clean, Grow, Harvest, Make, Build and Document. Each of these themes pertains to a broader context and water-related issue, as well as a space and an act.

WaterSchool can be displayed in various ways such as working exhibitions and temporary knowledge centres, pairing the exhibition with lecture series and designers in residence. On a smaller scale, they present fragments of the WaterSchool, bring works together within settings connected to education and the classroom. Earlier iterations of the WaterSchool exhibition series include a working exhibition and lecture series during the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam in 2018, and a presentation at the Istanbul Design Biennal in 2018.


Studio Makkink & Bey proposes to thematically position the curriculum of the WaterSchool, directing all efforts towards studying water and analysing how it links to all subjects taught at school.

This was first explored in the exhibition presented at the Istanbul Design Biennial, where works by selected designers and artists were categorised according to the subjects taught at Turkish primary schools. Also included in the exhibition were fictional texts written by imaginary pupils inhabiting this future WaterSchool, which provided visitors with an insight into how these works related to the subjects taught and how they could be integrated within everyday lessons.

Parallel to this speculative approach, Studio Makkink & Bey is working hands-on in collaboration with several educational institutes in the Netherlands – integrating artists and designers into their curriculums. The aim is to develop both a system on how to incorporate them, as well as an archive of designers/artists who are willing to work with education, with the purpose of confronting pupils with alternative and unconventional approaches to topics and subjects.


United by a common idea and led by Studio Makkink & Bey, the local community invites artists and emerging designers to construct the entirety of the WaterSchool collectively. In this way, the school and its building site become both a Learning Landscape and a Production Landscape, aiding students in developing an alternative relationship with water, as well as engaging them and the local community practically in constructing a real-life example of a more sustainable future.

As opposed to conventional architecture, Studio Makkink & Bey herein proposes to first construct all spaces separately on the plot: the Sanitary, the Garden, the Kitchen, the Workshop and the Library. When all of them are built, all functions are unified within one building through the construction of walls. In this process, the WaterSchool can decide to make several of the functions and spaces semi-public, allowing for the neighbourhood to use them whenever the school doesn’t feel the urge to do so. In this way, both community and school become connected and intertwined, maximising the impact of the WaterSchool.

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