Day Zero

A remote residency by TU Delft and SPACE10 exploring positive water futures.


Together with water experts from the Global Drinking Water program at TU Delft, SPACE10 is launching a two-month remote residency exploring visions for positive water futures in cities worldwide. Through imaginative and interdisciplinary approaches, the residents will identify what it would take to avoid Day Zero in their own cities by tapping into alternative water sources.


From Cape Town to London to Mexico City, water scarcity is a challenge in cities across the world.

‘Water scarcity will be exacerbated as rapidly growing urban areas place heavy pressure on neighbouring water resources.’
UN, 2020

As these cities grow and their demands increase, their infrastructure falls under enormous pressure and becomes less water-resilient. While most people living in cities still have reliable access to water, others have already experienced what it’s like to reach the limit.

In 2017, Cape Town faced a drought-induced water crisis so severe that the city prepared to switch off its water supply. To avoid the ‘Day Zero’, the city sparked an action plan and an awareness campaign that united citizens in a huge effort to cut water consumption. As a result, Cape Town managed to avoid the crisis.

The events in Cape Town are an inspiring example of how people can unite around a cause and protect their city from Day Zero. Can we do the same by tapping into alternative water sources for our cities?


We will invite three residents across the globe to explore Day Zero in their own city, and translate their research into visionary solutions for the cities of tomorrow. The residents will visually communicate a possible future for their city through a speculative design concept which taps into one of the following future water sources:
— Seawater
— Rainwater
— Wastewater.
This vision should inspire and engage people around the world to strive for a positive water future. What could that future look like?
The final outcome will be three key visuals supported by a short, descriptive project text. The visual medium can range from digital (2D or 3D) renders to illustrations, to mixed media or staged photography with prototypes — as long as the concept is visually strong and tells the story. For reference, see our past playful research projects Tomorrow’s Meatball and Spaces on Wheels.


This residency aims to bring together different perspectives and backgrounds from people with skills such as speculative design, visual communication, illustration, or visual arts and storytelling. Ideally, our residents are humble, independent, optimistic, visionary, and collaborative. Applicants with diverse perspectives and from different locations will be prioritised.
The residency will be facilitated through collaborative weekly digital sessions with SPACE10, TU Delft and other experts, where the residents will receive guidance and mentorship throughout their two-month journey. TU Delft will guide the residents’ research and analyses and strengthen them with their knowledge and perspectives. The residency is planned from 10 May 2021-2 July 2021 and will take place entirely online.