Warka Water tower - Copyrights: Architecture and Vision / Arturo Vittori

Warka Water, a water tower ideal for arid places

Posted on 25 March 2015.

In the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, women and children have to travel dozens of miles from their mountainous homes just to find what is an often unsafe source of water.

A vase-shaped structure 9 meters high and weighing only 60 kilos made from bamboo and a mesh fabric is just about all you need to overcome the major problem of access to water - quickly, efficiently and sustainably.

There’s no rain, but it's as if there were

Up to 100 liters of water collected every day - the objective set by Warka Water, which takes its name from a majestic local fig tree, a symbol of fertility, and also a gathering place for village meetings or for classes. The principle is simple: during the monsoon, raindrops slide down the bamboo structure. During the dry season, the very fine fabric stretched inside the tower captures the moisture in the air in the form of condensation. The clean water then travels to the base of the tower – and it’s ready to drink!

Hey presto!

According to its designer, the Italian architect Arturo Vittori, no machines and only four people are needed to both build and install it. What’s more, the necessary materials are readily available locally. "We want it to be a DIY project," he says. It’s Warka Water’s greatest strength - it draws its inspiration from its environment, adapting not only to climatic conditions and physical limitations but also to the lifestyle and traditions of the people living there. "I saw how their houses were built,” says Vittori, “how people make their everyday objects, and even how they dress. I was inspired by the toukouls - round houses made of mud with a woven roof, and the braided baskets and rugs typical of the area..."

The first Warka Water tower will be built near Bahar Dar, in the northwest of the country, at 3000 or 4000 meters above sea level. If the test is successful, other Warka Water towers that meld perfectly into the local landscape will pop up wherever people need them. And because Ethiopia has lost 90% of its forests in barely 50 years, Vittori and his team decided to plant a warka tree along with every Warka Water. A simple way of pairing access to drinking water with developing resources.

Pour en savoir plus :

- Visit the official website of Architecture and Vision, which designed Warka Water