An ingenious solution for water storage takes its roots in the vibrant city of Mumbai, and it all starts with an unlikely candidate: the unassuming park bench. This story shows how the city creatively tackled its urgent water management needs, focusing on sustainability, urban design, and community involvement. 

Water Benches in Mumbai Parks 

The BMW Guggenheim Lab in Mumbai discussed the direct link between water and the city’s infrastructure and civic issues. In Mumbai, there is a clear contrast between the dry and dusty areas in the poorer neighborhoods and the green and well-watered parks in the wealthier South. In order to effectively address the issue of water permeating all physical and social boundaries in the city, it is imperative to complement large-scale, top-down planning with local, microscale solutions. 

The Water Bench, developed by MARS Architects in collaboration with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, is the inaugural prototype in a groundbreaking series of water-conservation solutions aimed at addressing these pressing concerns. The Water Bench seeks to reduce the utilization of public water for the purpose of irrigating parks and green spaces in urban areas. 

This bench is specifically designed for subtropical climates found in parts of Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. It takes advantage of the unique continuous heavy rainfall during the wet season, allowing the bench to automatically fill its internal reservoir. During the following eight-month dry spell, this water is used to irrigate the surrounding vegetation. 

Not only does the Water Bench collect rainwater, but it also offers public seating. The design of this bench takes inspiration from Chesterfield sofas. It not only captures the beauty of eighteenth century-style upholstery but also serves a practical purpose. The grooves and seams on the seat cleverly direct water towards the buttons, which ingeniously act as water inlets to the concealed tanks inside the bench. This design ensures that the surface remains dry even when sitting, providing the same level of comfort found in an urban living room to outdoor public spaces. 

The park water benches in Mumbai are an innovative modular design that utilizes partially recycled polyethylene materials. The benches come in three various storage capacities: 

  • 500 liters (132 gallons) 
  • 1,000 liters (264 gallons) 
  • 1,800 liters (475.5 gallons). 

This wide range of sizes ensures that the benches can be tailored to suit any urban setting, from intimate terrace gardens to bustling public parks. For roadside installations, the smallest unit is perfect as it doesn’t need any groundwork. If you’re looking to water your gardens or greenhouses, the medium size with an underground tank is the ideal choice. Lastly, the largest unit is specifically designed for public parks and playgrounds, ensuring efficient and effective watering. 

Mumbai’s Horniman Circle and Cross Maidan now boast the newly installed Water Benches in Mumbai, marking the beginning of an exciting one-year prototyping phase coinciding with the onset of the monsoon season. The objective of implementing this project in Mumbai is to install an adequate number of units in each park, ensuring that they become lush and self-sufficient in terms of water supply.

About MARS Architecture

MARS Architects is an innovative research and design firm based in Shanghai, combining Dutch expertise with Chinese inspiration. Our primary focus is on creating sustainable architecture and urban planning solutions that shape the cities of tomorrow. For the past decade, MARS Architects has been dedicating itself to crafting a comprehensive range of solutions that effectively tackle the pressing challenges faced by developing cities worldwide. From enhancing drinking water accessibility to revitalizing public spaces and improving transportation infrastructure, our team has relentlessly worked towards creating an ecological framework of innovative answers.

The firm’s team of architects, planners, and product designers is truly exceptional. They possess a wide range of skills and expertise, allowing them to tackle projects of any size in complex urban environments around the world.

MARS Architects collaborated with the BMW Guggenheim Lab to craft the remarkable Water Bench, which is proudly licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Using these park benches for water storage in Mumbai showcases the power of innovative thinking in tackling urban challenges. Cities can transform their future by incorporating sustainable solutions into the core of urban life, leading to increased resilience and promoting a strong sense of community ownership and participation. This will help to build a future that is both environmentally sustainable and water secure.

Recommended: Discovering the Giant Underground Water Pools as the Sustainable Batteries of the Future 


Olivia is committed to green energy and works to help ensure our planet's long-term habitability. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and avoiding single-use plastic.

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