Water-collecting tower wins design award

The Warka Water project, a structure that collects rain and harvests fog and dew from the atmosphere, is the winner of the 2016 World Design Impact Prize. The project provides safe drinking water to vulnerable communities.

It looks like a cross between an artistic sculpture and a communal tent. But the Warka Water project is a lifeline for vulnerable communities in rural Ethiopia where access to safe drinking water is limited.

Warka Water is a low-tech but highly effective means of harvesting potable water from the atmosphere by collecting rain and harvesting fog and dew. It relies solely on natural phenomenon such as gravity, condensation and evaporation and requires no electricity.

It consists of a permeable mesh that allows air to pass through the material and captures water droplets. The water droplets roll down and are then caught be a collector and channelled into a water tank. The collector also works as a dew condenser . The water than passes through a funnel, which acts as a filtration system, and into a 3,000-litre water tank.

The tower is made with local and biodegradable materials such as bamboo, fibre ropes and bio-plastic. It is modular in its design, enabling easy transport even by foot to remote places, and the elements can be easily joined together using simple tools including a bamboo splitter, hammer, drill, sewing machine, saws and a tape measure.

It is fitting, then, that this water system – which is designed to be owned and operated by the villagers – has just received the 2016 World Design Impact Prize. An initiative of the International Council of Societies for Industrial Design, the prize recognises industrial design-driven projects that benefit society

Esosa Precious Desperts, a textile designer, and Arturo Vittori, co-founder and director of the architecture and design studio Architecture and Vision, accepted the award for Warka Water. They said that their goal is to bring their project to other parts of the world because the basic philosophy driving their project is the ability to adapt.


Image credit: World Design Capital Taipei 2016

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