‘Water in Istanbul: Rising to the Challenge?’ Project Workshop: Water Storage and Rainwater Harvesting


31 October 2021

On 4th October, the BIAA organised a workshop at the Netherlands Consulate in Istanbul as part of the ‘Water in Istanbul: Rising to the Challenge?’ project funded by the British Academy’s Knowledge Frontiers 2021: International Interdisciplinary Research Scheme. This workshop aimed to understand current water management needs by exploring how past practices can inform solutions to existing water storage problems and how rainwater harvesting systems could act as alternative methods for water resource generation in Istanbul. The workshop initiated a collective knowledge generation process through which water management experts discussed and co-defined the current needs and explored the possibility of translating past practices into a meaningful form for today’s conditions.

Click here to read more about the wider aims of the BIAA-led ‘Water in Istanbul: Rising to the Challenge?’ Project.

The event started with BIAA Director Lutegarde Vandeput presenting the Institute’s water-related research projects and collaborations. This introduction was followed by a panel session with representatives from Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration, Fatih Municipality, the British Consulate General in Istanbul, the Netherlands Institute in Turkey, Istanbul Policy Center, Istanbul Technical University and Royal HaskoningDHV, who all presented their water management-related initiatives.

The second part of the workshop provided a space for local participants to co-define the methods of using rainwater harvesting to create alternative water sources in Istanbul. In two parallel focus groups, 20 participants discussed the challenges of implementing rainwater collection systems in buildings and urban open spaces and listed the problems to be overcome.  

At the end of the workshop, participants agreed on the need to establish a new office under the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration, which would be solely responsible for water storage and rainwater harvesting. 

Participants also discussed the possibility of revitalising some historical systems and integrating them into the modern city infrastructure. Due to the risks of damage and the unfeasible storage capacities, a more conservation-oriented approach was adopted. It was agreed that revitalising one or two pilot cisterns could be used as an awareness-raising strategy, supported by public engagement activities.

This collaboration will be enriched by the involvement of more participants from regional and national level authorities in upcoming workshops to be held throughout 2022.