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Innovation in progress

Innovation in progress: Introducing Calzada del Agua

For the first interview of the Innovation in Progress series, we speak to Nahuel Beccan Davila, one of the project leaders of ‘Calzada del Agua’, on a sunny morning at the BD+P office in Oestgeest.

Water and culture form a common thread in Nahuel’s projects, as evidenced by both his story and his bookshelf, which prominently displays books about the Dutch polder and Mexico. Nahuel enthusiastically shares the ins and outs of the feasibility study that he and consortium partners FieldFactors and Centro SC have been working on since January.

Keep reading to find out how this common thread is also reflected in this innovative project.

Project leader

Calzada del Agua’s project leader is a passionate architect and urban planner, with a strategic vision and a love for water. After graduating from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nahuel moved to the Netherlands to study at Delft University of Technology. He worked on numerous international projects, with ‘water’ being a constant theme. “We try to integrate water into all of our spatial developments. Water is the engine of our processes and the centre of our designs. We have found that water has a different character in every country. One of the biggest mistakes is to think that your vision of water can solve it all. It’s important to understand how water is integrated in the local culture and how you can adjust your strategy accordingly”, says Nahuel.

Transforming challenges into innovations

Nahuel explains that Mexico struggles with both too much and too little water. The streets, especially in cities, often flood due to heavy rainfall. When he and his team were working on a masterplan for the municipality of Oaxaca, they were inspired to make use of the abundant rainfall. That is how this Partners for Water (PFW) subsidy project originated. Nahuel says: “To tackle both drought and waterlogging, we offer a circular water system that employs BlueBloqs technology. This technology facilitates local collection, purification, underground storage and the reuse of rainwater. To identify the best implementation site, we’ve developed a toolkit for conducting the necessary analyses. This approach is unique because we offer the spatial design and technical solution as a single product, resulting in an integrated water and space solution.”

Consortium Partners

In addition to awarding the subsidy, Partmers for Water has played another role during the project’s preparation. Nahuel explains: “After we were inspired to start this project, we contacted Partners for Water with our idea. As it turned out, they knew of an innovative startup that was already developing a circular water system. This led to a great collaboration with FieldFactors and our application for the subsidy.” From previous projects, Nahuel was already familiar with their local consortium partner, Centro SC. This consultancy agency excels at establishing the right local connections and analysing Mexican regulations, which is essential to navigate through the country’s various and complex bureaucratic systems and conducting the feasibility study.

Collaborating with local partners

BD+P has been implementing projects in Mexico for over 13 years, including previous successful collaborations with the municipality of Oaxaca. This has provided a solid foundation of trust for the current collaboration. Nahuel says: “With this project, the municipality of Oaxaca is making a statement about how water can be used in a different way. This statement aligns with the municipality’s vision: a city that promotes education. The stakeholders are included through design workshops, brainstorming sessions and interviews. The municipality intends to use the collected and purified rainwater for various water users, such as bus stations, hotels and markets. This recycling of water helps to solve their water shortage problem and reduces the financial costs of water usage.”

In the field

With a smile on his face, Nahuel talks about the existing challenges: “There are various laws and regulations in Mexico that sometimes overlap. In addition, data is often lacking. While you can easily request data in the Netherlands, here you often have to measure it yourself. Usually, we see a project as a linear process, but that is not the case here. We are going from A to B to Z and back again. As a result, we can say that the project is progressing a little less smoothly than planned.”

Next step

“At the moment, we are in the midst of our feasibility study. The outcome of this study will determine whether the project is technically and financially feasible. If it proves to be, we will apply for the next PFW-subsidy round to start a pilot project!”

Innovation in progress series

During the Partners for Water programme 2022 – 2027, several projects that received the Partners for Water subsidy will be followed from start to finish. Over the next few years, they will take you with them on their transformative journey. You’ll be able to gain insights into their promising solutions, innovative processes and collaborations with local partners, as well as their struggles, challenges and valuable lessons learned. Stay tuned and follow their journey through the Partners for Water website and our LinkedIn page!

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