Water harvesting façade panels

Inspired by the drought in her native country South Africa, Netherlands-based designer Shaakira Jassat designed Aquatecture, façade panels designed to harvest rain water.

In Cape Town, water became so scarce last year that a date was set when the city’s tap would be shut off. People quickly changed their behaviour, using less water, until ‘Day Zero’ was eventually postponed indefinitely. Since then, the droughts have eased up due some rains last year, but because of global warming, they are becoming more frequent throughout the country.

Given the drought in Cape Town, Jassat envisioned a way for buildings to harvest rain water, thus providing for its habitants needs. Aquatecture, as the panel is called, is made of stainless steel thanks to its durability in wet conditions and its ability to withstand rust. Falling rainwater trickles over the open punctures of the panel, where the water is collected and transported down to a collection tank. It is then pumped back int the building’s grey water system for later use.

Jasset started with patterns that could possibility collect the most water as well as be aesthetically pleasing. Prototypes were used with a shower of water flowing slowly over them to emulate rain as best as possible. Once tested, Jassat selected the most efficient design and modified it where necessary.

“The water collecting efficiency, aesthetic appeal and compactness of the design were key factors in determining the final design,” Jassat says. “The main goal was to create a water harvester that would fit in dense urban spheres through its compactness, visual identity and ability to integrate into architecture.”

If integrated with technology, the panels would even be able to harvest moisture from the atmosphere. This would work with thermodynamics, cooling moist air to condense and harvest it.

Photos: Angeline Swinkels / Ronald Smits