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2. Water House

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Edited by Felix Flesche.

Prestel, 2005. £17.50

There seems little hope that I could ever finish a book that begins: 'Water as life's origin symbolises? the dream of living in a symbiotic relationship with nature.' Despite Water House's presumptuous notion that anyone with any ambition to be more than a fish - or a leech - would want to wallow in a symbiotic relationship with nature, I took a deep gulp and prepared to swim upstream.

Firstly though, I had to wade through a paragraph that cited the musical Hair's song Aquarius, Donovan's Atlantis and The Beatles' Yellow Submarine. This opening essay is a real damp squib.

In it, I learned that water increases in volume when it freezes;

that 70 per cent of the human body is water; and that 'water has a capacity to reflect light'.

Fortunately, once the statements of the bleeding obvious have been circumnavigated, the case studies in Water House turn out to be fascinating. But the book has the unnecessary retro feel of a 1950s comic, which detracts from, rather than enlivens, the strength of the projects on display. From Micha de Haas' brilliant Aluminium Forest in Houten, Holland, to the fascinating Palm Jumeirah man-made islands off Dubai, there are some really imaginative ideas on show here. However, this is marred by the fact that most are unbuilt, the computer graphics are truly terrible and none of the great ideas are the authors'.

With a radical flourish, the book suggests that ''water is freedom' could be the rallying cry of a future generation.' To which I am compelled to respond: 'Water you talking about?'

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