The Aquatecture rain-harvesting panels – designed by a South African – would let people in drought-stricken cities catch their own water!
Western Cape, South Africa (18 December 2020) – This incredible invention could make all the difference in drought-stricken countries… and the V&A Waterfront will be among the first companies in South Africa to test a highly innovative new design in rainwater harvesting technology.
The Aquatecture rain harvesting panel collects water by diverting raindrops flowing over the perforations on the surface to the inside of the system. From there the water trickles down into a collection tank where it can either be stored for later use or can be pumped back into a building’s greywater system.
The panel is also currently being developed to harvest moisture from the atmosphere.
Aquatecture is the brainchild of South African born designer Shaakira Jassat. Although she lives in the Netherlands now, Jassat witnessed Cape Town’s devastating drought when she attended the Cape Town Design Indaba as a speaker in 2018. She was determined to design a rain harvester that was compact and aesthetically suited to the urban environment, which is now the Aquatecture panel.
“My family still lives in South Africa and I travel at least once a year. The drought was quite intense. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to go through. I was at the time getting toward graduation in the Netherlands and wanted to do something about it. So, I asked myself if there was no water coming out of my tap what would I do? How can I create something meaningful and change the situation that we are in?” she said.
A glance through the window one afternoon lent a moment of inspiration.
“I thought if it’s raining outside and if I had something on my balcony to collect water that would be so cool. I could use it to water my plants or use it to drink…To be able to wait for a drop of water brings me right back to the week I spent to almost day zero. In Cape Town. We almost never had it.”
Manufactured from aluminium, the panels are resistant to corrosion and can be installed on the exterior of buildings or they can be used as freestanding units in areas with more open space. They will be tested at the Granger Bay parking garage over the next two years, and all water collected will be used at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. This test facility is made possible in collaboration with Arup, Geustyn & Horak, JoJo Tanks, Baloo Plumbing and Longspan Gutters.
Rainfall data specific to the area will be collected during the testing period and measured against weather variables, for example, the direction of rain, wind, and the amount of rain that fell during each period. The panels will also be tested for efficiency and impact on the surrounding environment.
V&A Waterfront CEO David Green said, “The V&A Waterfront has been at the forefront of water saving in Cape Town since 2009, when we first introduced water conservation measures. We recognised even then that water was a highly pressured resource. By 2016 when the drought was first making its effect felt, the Waterfront had saved 25% on overall water consumption based on year-on-year figures from 2010.
“Saving water is now an integral part of every development and of our overall sustainability programme. In addition to rainwater harvesting, the Aquatecture panels are also compact and visually appealing so they will integrate well into most urban architectures.”