We have designed and applied a water purification system that works by natural means (macrophites). The system is able to transform the waste waters of buildings into purified water that can be reused for different purposes. We use the residual or spare city spaces ( roundabouts) to place the water treatment system.
Describe the critical need your solution addresses.
We know 40% of the water consumed in the world is used in building facilities. We believe it is important to develop technologies and products as small scale solutions applicable locally for both: improving the management of this scarce resource and second but also relevant: raising awareness of the problem.
Explain your initiative in more depth and its stage of development.
In this context it is necessary to implement new solutions for water treatment and environmental education within the existing city to set a new standard for a very different future. Even if water is a major issue in a world context when living in a developed country we tend to forget that over large parts of the world, millions of people have inadequate access to potable water.
Sustainability is based on education and knowledge and we, as architects, express our ideas as statements when designing the city. We aim to promote a more respectful attitude towards environment and specially towards water.
Up to today we have developed and constructed a prototype installation. It is placed in a public space (park) linked to a kindergarden. The macrophite lagoon is purifying the waste waters from the building, both the grey and black waters. Then, this recycled water is reused for the irrigation of the whole park. We wanted to make visible this process and include it into the design of the public space. It was also key to link it to an educational building since sustainability is most related to education.
With this installation thousands of litres of drinkable water can be saved from the network. If applied at a larger scale less water will enter the city sewage systems saving the government from building new treatment plants and water quality will be increased to better than that supplied originally.
We are designing two different solutions:
1: For suburban areas with single housing: A residual space (such as roundabouts) can collect the waste waters for its purification. Then this reusable water is redistributed among the different housing and can be used for different purposes: irrigation, car washing, etc..
2: For public buildings: the municipality can implement the system in a location where there are several public facilities (offices, school and cultural building) with the aim of reducing water consumption by reusing the treated water to irrigate public spaces.
How does your strategy and approach respond creatively and comprehensively to key issues?
According to the UN, 12% of Europe is at risk of turning into desert and between 30-60% of Spain is at inmediate risk from desertification. Regardless of the present situation, there are few projects to implement new water management models or promote the creation of a new culture of the water.
We believe architecture is related to every human and conditions people's quality of life. Architecture has got a very strong social objective. Architects create the habitats for people to live in, study, move, work, relax and so on. In that sense architecture is important and somehow we are responsible for people’s well being.
From that point of view we consider relevant to develop innovations which directly affect the quality of life and promote environmental counsciousness. Some results expected from the project are:
- It improves community engagement and social interaction among neighbours.
- It has clear positive environmental consequences
- It reduces the consumption of drinkable water for different purposes
- It contributes to the development and spread of an affordable technology, that already exists and is tested but is not widely applied at the moment.
- This project transforms residual space into something new that provides a new landscape bringing into city
some nature and landscape quality.
- It will reduce the amount of water entering the city sewage systems saving the government from building new treatment plants
- Vacant lots or waste space could be transformed into new public spaces that positively contribute to hold social activities
- It will contribute to enhance the networking among citizens. The management model requires the participation at different levels of individuals who have to self-organize for the functioning and maintenance of the system. This does promote a sense of community, that could lead to other social events and interactions.