Rainhouse is a prototype home that turns rainwater into drinking water. Unveiled by Hungarian design studio IVANKA during Milan Design Week in April this year, the system is part of a project entitled The Water of Life.
There was a somewhat unconventional demonstration in store for those attending the Salon Internazionale de Mobile in Milan this year in the shape of an ominous cotton cumulus looming over the Superstudio Più gardens, above a small home without walls. When the cloud began to release artificial rain, the house swiftly converted the rainwater into fresh, clean drinking water for the intrigued onlookers gathered under the transparent roof.
Rainhouse relies on "bio-concrete", a term used to refer to both the biocompatible material and the entire filtration process developed and patented by IVANKA, which has designed an array of amazing concrete creations. Installed on the roof, it provides a chemical-free means of treating water to remove impurities and restore a healthy pH value (between 6.5 and 8.5 for drinking water). The water runs off the roof through a series of filters: first through the concrete filtration system; then through stainless steel pipes which further purify the water to remove any remaining impurities. The water is then stored in a concrete-lined tank.
Rainwater harvesting offers real benefits as our water resources continue to shrink worldwide. Rainwater is relatively clean when it falls from the sky. It is only when that water comes into contact with city streets that it accumulates dust, dirt and other pollutants. As a result, a number of architects have already begun incorporating innovative filtration systems into their construction projects. One example is the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, where water is harvested on an impressive lotus-flower roof, collected in a large storage tank then recycled for use in the building's restrooms. One of the unique features of The Water of Life is that this water is not just recycled, it is also turned into purified water suitable for drinking. IVANKA Creative Director Katalin Ivanka claims it could be "the missing link in ecological housing.".
Bio-concrete technology can be installed on the roof of existing buildings or incorporated into new construction projects. It can be adapted to all sizes of building, from individual homes to factories, and even small family farms. Of course, the system can only be effective in places where there is enough rainfall, but its designers estimate that such places cover half of the world's cities, even though they do not specify how the technology could be implemented (or at what cost) in poorer regions.