Warka Water

ORGANIZATION NAME: Architecture and Vision Studio

SUMMARY: “Warka Water (WW) it is a tower designed for social and educational activities with also the function to provide potable water to rural communities facing challenges in accessing this fundamental resource for life. WW provides clean water from the atmosphere under specific meteorological and geographical conditions.”

PROBLEM SPACE: “The global issue is the lack of potable water in rural and remote locations that are not served by public infrastructure (running water, electricity), in Africa, India and South America. To survive here, women and children walk everyday for miles towards shallow and unprotected ponds, where the water is often contaminated with human and animal waste, parasites, and diseases.
They collect the water using dry carved pumpkins and carry the water back in old plastic containers, which are extremely heavy. To help improve this dramatic situation, we are developing the WW; an environmentally, socially and financially sustainable solution to potable water. We have focused our effort at the moment on one geographical context as a case study; Ethiopia, the cradle of humanity. Starting from here we will develop and implement the project and once completed we will bring WW where there is the social need and the environmental conditions are favorable for its functioning. Recent studies show that in Ethiopia approximately 60 million people lack safe water.”

SOLUTION: Developed by Architecture and Vision Studio with the support of the Italian Cultural Center in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian government, Warka Water is a 33-foot-tall, robust but very lightweight modular tower made from locally available bamboo and natural fiber ropes. The structure harvests water from the ambient air in dew and fog to supply clean water to rural communities in poor regions where potable water sources are rare. The construction techniques, inspired by Ethiopian vernacular architecture and traditional basket weaving, use local labor and available materials in an elegant combination with a unique fabric and polyethylene textile moisture-collection mesh. The triangulated grid shell is inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome. A Warka Water tower can collect up to 100 liters of drinking water per day. The technology is biomimetic, conceived by observing nature’s strategies to harvest moisture from the air in a creature such as the Namib beetle, or on a spider web, or by such plants as lotus flowers and cacti. Demonstration towers have already been built and displayed, and the first onsite prototype is being deployed this year in a mountainous region of Ethiopia, a nation with among the worst water availability and quality in the world, resulting in high disease rates and stymied development. This is a stellar example of an elegant, simple, low-cost but life-saving (and life-giving) artifact designed by honoring nature’s design sophistication and adapting it to solve human problems effectively, harmlessly, and gracefully.

CONTACT: Arturo Vittori, [email protected]