Rainwater

In green New Zealand sometimes the seasons are slightly out of synch, but generally we can rely on rain to arrive eventually. Do we need urban rainwater tanks when it is so plentiful, can we take this resource for granted?

Sabrina Faber won a competition, at the end of 2011, for her solution to the severe rain water shortage in Sana’a which is at risk of being the first capital city in the World to run out of renewable, reliable and clean water supplies. Interestingly, this is not a city with a low yearly rainfall.

This article caught my eye because, as most people know, I travelled around several Middle Eastern countries, including Yemen, while attempting the basics of learning Arabic. Sana’a is a beautiful city, full of old earth buildings that embody the vernacular sustainable ideal of managing its climate through building mass and a cooling stack effect through  tall towers. One of the delights of the buildings in Sana’a is the white surface decoration and glass coloured windows that glow like lanterns at night.

The Award is a “global initiative designed to generate innovative, meaningful and achievable ideas to improve the health and well-being of city-dwellers across the world”. The awardees received grants that will allow them to bring their ideas to life, improving the livability within their local communities.

As winner, Sabrina Faber from Sana’a, Yemen has received a €75,000 grant to implement an innovative solution for water shortage in Sana’a. The challenge addresses the residents dependency on the polluted water supply due to the shortage, often leading to infection among the young and elderly. Faber’s solution proposes the use of existing flat rooftop structures to capture, filter and store rainwater. The integration of cisterns would provide residents with 10,000 to 50,000 liters of clean, dependable water for domestic use annually.

It will be a  challenge to convert (and perhaps in some cases strengthen) the old and new flat rooved buildings to collect enough water to sustain its inhabitants (more on the project here) but with ample collection areas and reasonably high rainfall it has the potential to provide a solution.

Puts thinking about how you use or collect water in your next alteration a little more into perspective….

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