Everyday we live in a world where we must adapt to atmospheric elements that have an effect on our daily routine (like this past weekend in Toronto). We take out our shades when it’s sunny, throw on a sweater when its a little windy and throw out the ever reliable umbrella when it rains. From solar panels used to harness those rays of sunshine to massive wind turbines to convert the wind into a renewable energy source, our civilization has learned to adapt to the elements and harness their natural power.
Using this philosophy, Ryszard Rychlicki and Agnieszka Nowak, Polish Architectual Students of H3AR (a previously talked about group here at Vidafine), developed the ‘capture the rain’ skyscraper. This building has a roof and external shell made up of a gutter system that aims at collecting as much rainwater as possible (The average daily consumption of water per person reaches 150 litres of a day – which includes water for showering, washing hands, toilet water, drinking water, and cooking water). Of the 150 litres, 85 litres (just over 50%) can be replaced with rainwater – a staggering fact that we as socially aware individuals should look more closely at. When over a billion people worldwide lack clean drinking water, how can we sit on our hands and simply flush our toilets with water that is cleaner than the drinking water that a significant portion of our world consumes? Coupled with the fact that since 1900, the consumption of water in the Western world has increased by 1000% and individuals in North America consume five times more water than people in developing countries, we should celebrate the efforts of architects who formulate brave new designs focusing on combining sustainability efforts and modern design.
Designers are often focusing on compact objects that provide a wide range of functionality. The Swiss army knife is a knife but also a spoon. The iPhone is an iPod but also a phone. The ‘capture the rain’ skyscraper is a beautiful architectural building but also a rainwater collector. It only makes sense and a judging committee thought so too, awarding the architects a special mention for their proposal into the 2010 Skyscraper Competition.
The difficulty in seeing such proposals come to realization, much like many things in life, comes to a budgetary concern. Investment in such a building, I would imagine, would be hefty and the trade off of spending dollars on a rain collector skyscraper versus a typical cookie cutter skyscraper design must be weighty enough to be even considered. However, understanding that tenants would save tremendously in water bills (Breaking News: Rainwater is free…for now) in the long run might have construction companies take a closer look at such a design. While investment might come at a heavy price, we are investing not only in our environment, but in our future.
If we had more buildings designed in such a fashion, perhaps we’d stop singing “rain, rain go away, don’t come back til’ another day“ and start doing more rain dances instead. In the meantime we’ll have to stick with the singing, but it’s great to see architects really take a look at incorporated sustainable efforts in their designs. What do YOU think?