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Work in progress: Shaakira Jassat

There is always plenty of work in progress in Eindhoven Design District. This time we meet Shaakira Jassat and talk about the panels she designed to collect water. An idea that arose after the loss of a loved one. The Aquatecture is currently being tested in South Africa. Now she is looking for a partner in the Netherlands. 

You were already 'quite old' when you started at the Design Academy Eindhoven. What made you decide to pursue a second bachelor?

"Coming to Eindhoven for the DAE was an exciting but well-considered step. In South Africa, I had been working in the corporate world as an interior architect for a number of years. I was given a lot of opportunities, like setting up a new company within our corporate, when I decided to take a different turn in my life. I really wanted to work with my hands.”

Why Eindhoven?

"I did online research on good design schools. For example, I also looked at London, but DAE really stood out for me. The school has a clear idea on the impact you can make in the world as a designer. In preparation I came to Eindhoven twice. Once for the open day, and once for the selection interview. I needed to be sure before leaving a whole life behind.”

What was it like for you at Design Academy Eindhoven? 

Shaakira smiles: "At thirty, coming from the corporate world, I had to unlearn a few things. I actually started all over here and a new kind of freedom opened up to me. I learned how to create something special by staying close to myself.”

Shaakira chooses the Man and Food Department within DAE and follows a minor in ceramics, taught by the designers of Atelier NL. During her ceramics assignment she starts reflecting on the theme of water.

"While I was in Eindhoven doing this minor, Cape Town had to deal with insane drought. In that period my father also died. I had to do something with the feeling of loss and came up with the idea to design a system to cherish valuable things. In this case water.”


Hoe ontstond het ontwerp voor de panelen? 

“The idea of the panels came about thanks to my background and understanding of architecture. We somehow always want to keep the water out of our spaces and cities, but how can we live symbiotically with water in our urban spaces?”

“I saw the open call for projects from BioArt Laboratories - a lab in Eindhoven where disciplines such as art, science and (bio)technology come together. Every year there is a talent program to turn ideas into prototypes. The theme of that year was water, which immediately appealed to me.”

"At BioArt Lab I researched the Namibian desert beetle and especially the Tillandsia plant, both of which can extract water from the air themselves. This inspired me much further for my Aquatecture project.”

What exactly is Aquatecture? 

"They are stainless steel panels that collect water, both rainwater and vapour. They can be attached to buildings or installed as free standing elements in open public spaces. I've done a lot of research on how water flows into the panels. But I also found the aesthetic side important. The panel could be connected to the local water system of a building, giving you a self-sufficient system. Aquatecture is particularly suitable for densely populated urban areas where there is no room for large water tanks.”


What's it like to work in Eindhoven?

"Eindhoven is such a friendly city, I sense a lot of freedom to explore. The Dutch Design Week is of course great, such an important platform bringing together talent in terms of design. But there is also a tech side to Eindhoven. For example, I also work together with the TU/e in the development of Aquatecture. I notice that experts are approachable and willing to share knowledge. That also makes it easier for me to be open about my ideas.”

What could readers help you with? 

“I am searching for interested people in architectural and sustainable development in the region who can assist or provide a platform or investment for testing out my panels on a site in Eindhoven or anywhere in the Netherlands.

My work is currently being manufactured in South Africa for a small testing facility we will install in Cape Town to see how much water the panels are able to collect. I have teamed up with a development company called V&A Waterfront. Thereafter we will develop the panels further with the final aim of having them commercially available. I would love to have the same testing happen in the Dutch context.”

Would you like to share your work in progress?

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