Reflection Phase of Learning from Poulati

The Reflection phase for our project included both a trip of the artists to “reflect” on their submitted proposal on site, on the island of Sifnos, as well as a week-long Academy event with workshops and activities with the local high school, all at the end of November 2021.

The OHI PEZOUME/ UrbanDig Project team from Greece has selected a project that is site-based, and therefore the island itself with its community are the “laboratory” where the project’s experimentation will take place. For this reason, the team concentrates more on issues related to how the community connects to new ways of understanding water-systems and to how technology may trigger their interest and ultimately involvement in water management, rather than to technology related to water infrastructure per se.

The DECA Architecture team spent several days collecting more information about an area they have been attracted to already for some years. Poulati is situated in one among the 12 water basins of the island, on the western coast. It is a valley with a dry riverbed and from above looks like a green vein that descends to the sea between narrow and long terraces that cross it like ribbons in a stair-like fashion. There are still 6 active water sources (among the 9 existing ones, the others being dry) and about 25 open-air cisterns along the river bed that collect and store their water through hundreds of meters of stone-built water alleys.

The fascinating aspect of this location is that both its complex infrastructure and water-sharing system are unknown to the public despite their high sophistication and resilience throughout time. The approach for the research phase is to uncover some unknown aspects that could make Poulati an educational destination. Here, technology and art could support the accessibility to appreciate the universal appeal of an admirable infrastructure with community-led governance.