A panel designed to harvest water.

Shaakira has been fascinated by water as a material in her projects. Since the recent drought in her native country South Africa, she has shifted focus towards using her design work as a response to what she observed in Cape Town last year. During that time, people’s behavior towards water changed very quickly. Day Zero, the day the city’s taps would be shut off was anticipated. The drought in Cape Town has eased up due to some rains last year, however other parts of the country have experienced bouts of drought and on the other extreme, subsequent flash floods. These unexpected changes in our climate have all inspired Shaakira to create something that would alter the way we experience water in the urban environment.

Aquatecture is a panel designed to harvest rain water and when integrated with technology, it can harvest moisture from the atmosphere. Aquatecture can be installed as a façade panel on buildings making water harvesting an integrated building feature. It can also be used to create free standing elements in landscapes, creating water harvesting stations at various nodes throughout cities. Traditional architecture requires water to be kept out and away from a building, often flowing into stormwater drainage systems and picking up dirt along the route. Given the dry situation in Cape Town, Shaakira envisioned buildings that could harvest and sustain their own water needs.

Aquatecture is designed to collect falling rainwater as it trickles over the open punctures of the panel. The water that is collected is transported down to a collection tank and pumped back into the building’s grey water system, or stored for later use. Shaakira has reimagined a traditional practice like water harvesting, which usually requires space and doesn’t easily fit into the urban aesthetic, into something that is compact and easier for people to engage with. 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.

Photography by: Ronal Smits and Angeline Swinkels