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Architect’s unplanned experiment demonstrates water-permeable capabilities

September 16, 2009

Architect Robert Michel Charest tells us that water-permeable clay pavers really do let water permeate.

Before the LEED-Certified project was complete, the job site got a dousing from torrential rains.

Charest is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and heads the Urban Studio 02 course that designed My Sisters’ House, a structure that will provide a home for five unwed mothers and their children. [Read more about the project here.]

Before the gutters were installed on the building but after that StormPave pavers were put in, a torrential rainstorm lasting an hour and a half hit the work site.

We had a few of these late afternoon rainfalls that created a lot of flooding. One of them was just incredible, the rain was shedding right off the flat roof and falling on the pathway that follows the back of the building. We monitored it to see what it would do. At no time did we see any water pool above the line of the pavers. Everything was being absorbed magnificently and it is absolutely amazing. This is a very economical way to manage water runoff for residential areas, for strip malls, for arenas. And aesthetically, it is a beautiful product.—Robert Michel Charest.

Considering the relatively small size of the My Sisters’ House project, using pavers enables designers to specify an affordable rainwater management system, given that there isn’t enough land for a bioswale or enough money to invest in a conventional underground system.

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