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WarkaWater Towers

warkawater towerIndustrial designer Arturo Vittori envisions sculpture, not high-technology, as the solution to water shortages, reports Joseph Flaherty in Wired (3/28/14). The problem is severe: "Around the world, 768 million people don’t have access to safe water, and every day 1,400 children under the age of five die from water-based diseases." Arturo’s solution is the WarkaWater Tower, "sculptures that look like giant-sized objects from the pages of a Pier 1 catalog."

The WarkaWater stands "nearly 30 feet tall and collect over 25 gallons of potable water per day by harvesting atmospheric water vapor … each pillar is comprised of two sections: a semi-rigid exoskeleton built by tying stalks of juncus or bamboo together and an internal plastic mesh, reminiscent of the bags oranges come in. The nylon and polypropylene fibers act as a scaffold for condensation, and as the droplets of dew form, they follow the mesh into a basin at the base of the structure."

Arturo’s design "was inspired by the Warka tree, a giant, gravity-defying domed tree native to Ethiopia." "Using natural fibers helps the tower to be integrated within the landscape both visually and with the natural context as well as with local traditional techniques." Arturo used "traditional CAD tools" to design the WarkaWater, using "the same parametric modeling skills honed working on aircraft interiors and solar powered cars." Each tower would take four people less than a week to build, and cost about $550.