Handmade interactive tower designed to collect water in rural areas

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Conceptualized by architects Arturo Vittori & Andreas Vogler of Italy-based Architecture and Vision, Warka is a handmade 30 foot interactive tower, made from natural materials and collecting water, energy and communication from the air in rural areas of developing countries.

Water is the source of all life. The quality of water and its availability is fundamental to us but clean water is continuously decreasing. Pollution, growing deforestation, climate change and desertification further harm the availability of water sources. We have to secure the future of population especially in some rural areas without sufficient infrastructure to access water for basic needs, cultivation and livestock, people are forced to walk long distances to fetch water. However, the hygienic condition of the water sources is often not guaranteed as they are shared with the cattle and wildlife and other polluting activities nearby.

Trees are beautiful structures to look at but also they do something of us, they support life. They create resources and shelters. In pastoral Ethiopian culture the Warka Tree is an institution, the shade is used for traditional public gatherings, school education and the like. These trees are a very important part of the ecosystem and culture of Ethiopia and its disappearance seems unfortunately unavoidable. Ethiopia suffered a deforestation of 60% only in the last 40 years.

In mountain regions of Ethiopia women and children walk every day for several hours to collect water from sources often unsafe that they share with animals and are at risk of contamination. This situation makes their life even more difficult together with the endless household chores, resulting in lacking education.

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‘Warka Water’ offers an alternative to this dramatic situation. It is a vertical structure with a special fabric hanging inside to collect drinking water from the air by condensation. The triangular mesh structure is made of natural materials such as junco and can be built by the village inhabitants. The structure, which weighs only 60 kg, consists of 5 modules that are installed from the bottom to the top and can be lifted and assembled by 4 people without the need of scaffolding. The tower can collect up to 100 liters of drinking water per day. The Goal is that by 2015 the ‘Warka Water’ to be realized in Ethiopia.

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The project draws its inspiration from different sources: from the aesthetic point of view we looked at the Ethiopian traditional craftsmanship and shelters. The social aspect is inspired at the Warka tree, which combines many ecological and sociological functions in Ethiopia. The idea how to get water from the sky comes form observing nature, a little insect the Namib beetle (genus Stenocara) shows how nature can adapt to specific environmental conditions with rather simple, but astonishing solutions. The beetle collects water in the morning, by vertically putting its cold body into the wind and drinking the condensed drops. The structure is inspired by the traditional fish traps ‘Nassi di Giunco’, used in the Mediterranean see, as they are still made in Sicily.

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‘WarkaWater’ is a 9 m tall structure (30 foot) bamboo framework. Inside the hanging fabric and spanned in tension inside capable to collect potable water from the air by condensation. The lightweight structure is designed with parametric computing, but can be built with local skills and materials by the village inhabitants without the aid of special machinery.

The structure can be lifted and fixed to the ground by 4 person, no scaffolding needed. The material used are junco, iron wire, polyester ropes and polyethylene textile.

The Warka must be fixed with tensioning cables against strong wind.

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A series of 5 prototypes has been built so far, which have been tested to make further improvements in the structure. The first prototype, scale 1:10, was built in Ethiopia in 2012 with the support of the Italian Cultural Center in Addis Abeba and the EiABC, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Addis Ababa University. A 2nd prototype, full scale, has been built early 2013 during a workshop with students of the IUAV University of Venice. A 3th prototype has been realized in 2013 to be exhibited at the Architectural Biennale in Venice, Italy. A 4th prototype, also full scale, has been built to be exhibited at the Cite’ des Sciences in Paris early 2013.

A 5th development of the Warka Water was built early this year and is currently on display at the Art Museum Maxxi of Rome until 4th May 2014.

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All Images © Architecture and Vision

Project Credits:

Concept by: Arturo Vittori & Andreas Vogler of Architecture and Vision

Collaborators: Raffi Tchakerian

Textile Design: Precious Desperts

Communication: Gianni Massironi

Supported by:

Italian Cultural Institute, Addis Ababa

EiABC, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Addis Ababa University

IUAV University of Venice

Architecture and Vision

 

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