The spiralling towers created by Alberto Fernández and Susana Ortega capture the moisture from the clouds of the “Camanchaca”, a coastal fog originating from the anticyclone of the Pacific. The towers are planned for the dry coastal fringe of Chile where agriculture is constrained by water scarcity. Since winning a Next Generation prize in 2008, the concept has been further developed with funding from the Chilean Government and from the United Nations. The construction of the towers was adapted from the original design to interconnect the structure and the fabric, which accelerates the construction process.
The innovative design of the 9-10m high prototype towers condense water particles from the fog and then conduct the water to a tank at the base of the tower using only wind and gravity. The spiral structure contains plastic meshes stretched over a wooden frame using 3D printed connectors reinforced by CNC laser cut plates. The water is then filtered before use, with each tower capable of producing 100L/day.
The adapted version of the concept was exhibited in the Innovation Market at the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns held in Bilbao, Spain in April 2016. Architect Alberto Fernández – now a Professor of Architecture at the University of Chile – had won the Archiprix International 2007 for best graduation project in 2005/06 with the project.
In full production, the towers will stand 400m tall: a seaside spire that harvests airborne water molecules in the Huasco River valley. The end result is a water distribution system with a planned performance of 2-20L/m2 of vertical surface, producing from 20,000 to 200,000L of water per day.See more
A prototype at 1:10 of the full-scale project was completed in February 2010. More data collection and research will take place before full-scale production commences. The Huasco region in northern Chile is an agricultural region that depends on water for irrigation from the Huasco River. Water availability has decreased over the last decade, and new solutions have to be found to obtain water on the coast of this desert region.
This project intends to use of the “Camanchaca”, a coastal fog originating from the anticyclone of the Pacific and condensing behind the coastline. The striking ideas consist of towers with a height of 200m catching the water particles and conducting them to the base of the tower, where the liquid is filtered through a reverse osmosis process to eliminate salt.
The tower is constructed as a spiral structure with a wooden base, copper mesh providing conduits and a plastic skin. The water catching system only uses wind energy and gravity in its principal working process.
Prototype yields knowledge – and water
A 15m prototype tower was built in February 2010 to collect more data from the low cost model scaled at 1:10 compared to the final concept. Using the same mechanics for vertical fog harvesting the prototype delivered superior performance in comparison to traditional horizontal fog catching models.
The prototype has a surface area of 71m2 rolled onto a triangular wooden structure with greater structural integrity. In keeping with the low-tech/high-impact aims of the project, the prototype was constructed on a hill 460m above sea level to verify the structure can support the 50km/h prevailing winds.
The tower is a striking landmark in its environment, and produces between 140 and 700L of water each day. Following completion of the research phase of the project, pre-fabricated models are planned that will support water demands for communities in extreme geo-climatic conditions.See more
The “Next Generation” first prize was presented to architect Alberto Ferandez Gonzalez who was applauded for his Coastal fog-harvesting tower concept for Huasco, Chile, which proposes to extract water for agriculture from the “Camanchaca” coastal fog.Media release – Holcim Awards honor sustainable construction in Latin America » Más información (Spanish) » Leia mais (Portuguese) »
The Huasco region in northern Chile is an agricultural region that depends on water for irrigation from the Huasco River. Water availability has decreased over the last decade, and new solutions have to be found to obtain water on the coast of this desert region. This project intends to use of the “Camanchaca”, a coastal fog originating from the anticyclone of the Paciﬁc and condensing behind the coastline.
The striking ideas consist of towers with a height of 200m catching the water particles and conducting them to the base of the tower, where the liquid will be ﬁltered through a reverse osmosis process to eliminate salt. The tower is constructed as a spiral structure with a wooden base, copper mesh providing conduits and a plastic skin. The water catching system only uses wind energy and gravity in its principal working process. The jury was delighted by this innovative, simple and elegant solution that will provide water to an otherwise declining agricultural area.See more
Huasco is an arid agricultural region dependent on irrigation. With its river depleted, the Coastal fog-harvesting tower proposes an ingenious solution using only wind energy and gravity. The 200 meter tall tower is constructed as a spiral – it collects water particles from coastal fog, filters out salt by reverse osmosis and distributes freshwater to an otherwise declining agricultural area.Download project entry poster (PDF, 1.76 MB) »
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