Water is scarce in the Namib desert, but soon, there might be tons of water available to those living in the harsh climate. Architecture and Vision is setting out to create unique structures that can pull water from the air.
The structures are part of a project called WarkaWater. The structures include bamboo or juncus frame that’s nine meters tall and supports a plastic mesh net. When the temperature falls at night, the water condenses on the net and travels down the reservoir located at the bottom of the tower. The tower is expected to collect 100 liters a night under the right conditions.
These structures will give villagers easy access to water, a necessity that’s hard to come by in the desert. ”In rural Ethiopia women and children walk several hours to collect water,” states Architecture and Vision in their article about the project. “Most people collect water from shallow, unprotected ponds which they share with animals and are subject to contamination.”
The towers seem like space age technology, but they will be built to “mesh” (get it?) nicely with the villagers’ lives. “The lightweight structure is designed with parametric computing, but can be built with local skills and materials by the village inhabitants,” said designers Andrea Vogler and Arturo Vittori. The design also reflects the culture of the inhabitants; the project is named after the Warka tree, which – as Architecture and Vision states – is “a giant wild fig tree native to Ethiopia, traditionally used for public gatherings and school education.”
Vittori told the Smithsonian Magazine more about the potential the towers have to help people in the area. “It’s not just illness that we’re trying to address,” he said, discussing the many waterborne diseases that live in untreated water. “Many Ethiopian children from rural villages spend several hours every day to fetch water, time they could invest for more productive activities and education.” He goes on to say if the towers can give the villagers more independence, “they can free themselves from this cycle.”
Vittori’s goal is to have two Warka Towers built in Ethiopia next year, with each tower being built for an estimated $500 each. Currently, the project is looking for sponsorship.
Image: Architecture and Vision