These basket-like, towering design marvels are showing up in the deserts of Northern Ethiopia, where village women and children walk for hours every day just to obtain water for their homes. Architecture and Vision, an international design collaboration firm, has made a habit of developing gorgeous answers to difficult life questions. The WarkaWater towers, named for a revered and endangered African tree species, are a viable answer to water scarcity in a harsh region.
The towers are super high tech in design, but, wonderfully, can be built by local communities with materials sourced from the region, requiring no special tools or power. A team of five or six workers, without machinery, can assemble the airy but durable bamboo structure. Within the vase-like tower is a special nylon-like mesh lining that is able to harvest potable water from the atmosphere via condensation—up to 30 or 40 liters per night (in the range of 8-10 gallons). Easy to place around areas without needing any supplemental structure or services, this invention can radically alter the health and well-being of entire villages, making life in the arid desert less punishing.
The creators, Architecture and Vision, have also developed and planned prototypes for projects as diverse as a solar race car, jewelry, air purifiers, furniture, and "MoonVille," a lunar village. It is truly inspiring when you don't have to choose between form and incredible, innovative function.