Could this simple tower harvest drinking water out of thin air?

An Italian architect has designed a light structure made of woven bamboo that could, he hopes, bring pure drinking water to the poorest parts of the world just by standing there and being itself.

The so-called ‘WarkaWater’ stands 12m tall and could produce potable water from the air by condensing moisture with its fine internal mesh and channeling the droplets into a container.

The brainchild of Arturo Vittori, founder of Italian studio Architecture and Vision and a research professor at Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology, the WarkaWater was conceived for communities in rural Ethiopia which lack access to safe drinking water. The name is inspired from the giant Ethiopian fig tree ‘Warka’ traditionally used for public gatherings.

Water droplets forming on the mesh used in a WarkaWater tower (Architecture and Vision)

Vittori designed the tower, now in its second iteration, to be cheap, light and easy for people to build. It weighs around 90kg and consists of five modules which can be built and assembled by villagers without scaffolding or power tools. 

Materials needed include rattan or bamboo, ropes, metallic wires, and the polyethylene mesh inside. The kit can be transported by donkey and can be assembled by six people in five days, the company’s website says.

It’s not clear whether it will work in its intended location. The website says it should be possible to collect up to 100 litres of drinking water a day where there are dewy or foggy conditions, but no tower has yet been built in Ethiopia, and Vittori did not respond to GCR’s request for interview in time.

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in Innovation