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Architects Gone Wild: Water Inspiration for Yeosu 2012

Big-time international design competitions encourage architects to “design and build feats of wonderment” and for the ocean-themed Yeosu, Korea World Expo 2012 (“The Living Ocean and Coast”) we can see what their creative imaginations might generate with water as a prime ingredient.

MVRDV (Rotterdam, NL) submits a striking Water Cube Pavilion that imagines “a block extracted from the ocean” in which one is surrounded on all sides by water with a series of water “basins” that are stacked on top of each other. . The skin of the building is designed out of four layers of glass, with water in between. Fresh sea water from outside is constantly pumped into the basins as a natural temperature adapter. The skin contains elements to regulate temperature such as rolling curtains to control the UV penetration and solar PV cells to create energy for the water circulation and the light of the building. (More info and images at Inhabitat.com and archdaily.com)

Our mobile society will squeal with delight at the submission from Melbourne, AU-based Peddle Thorp Architects. Their pavilion is is a vessel – a floating exhibition space that can be sailed to other cities. Today, adaptability is a key planning concept, so we love that this is a “living building that can adapt to suit an unknowable future.” Just think how great it would be if we could easily move the many abandoned and failed facilities that now litter the world landscape…schools, malls, hospitals that moved along with the population! (More info and images at archdaily.com)

Flying Water Catcher for the Futuristic Home

I hope I live long enough to own one of these! The fanciful Water Catcher, conceptualized by Penghao Shan from Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, China, is a finalist in the Electrolux Design Lab ’09.

It is a robotic “birdie” that flies about, returning home with a bounty of water gathered from rain or humidity. The idea seems a bit silly initially, but watch the video; you’ll likely be won over with the “wants” for the little hydro-whirlybird like I did. Even the Jetsons didn’t have it this good!  (NOTE: the public can vote on the entries! Send Penghao Shan some ballot-box love in the poll on the right sidebar.)

From electroluxdesignlab.com:

Flying in the rain
Penghao Shan has created a product that addresses water shortage. His solution is “Water Catcher”, a flying rain catcher and water purifier. This automated device dispatches small flying balls in the air to catch raindrops. After the raindrops are collected, the balls return to a homing tray that purifies the water for drinking. Once purified, the balls take the drinking water directly to a person to be drunk. The homing tray also reads fingerprints to determine what additives should be added to the water to ensure the drinker optimizes their health.

The Campaign for Lovely Carafes

Thankfully, many great campaigns are underway to get clean water to those who desperately need it.

But what about getting water to those who need it in a chic, well-designed container? Isn’t design-lifestyle snobbery one of the factors that’s spurred the rise of premium bottled waters?

Perhaps a good strategy is to “fight fire with fire.” The 2008 London On Tap competition teamed London’s mayor with Thames Water to draw designers into the tap water vs. bottled water struggle via a contest to create the ultimate water carafe. The winning design, “Tap Top,” (created by Islington industrial designer Neil Barron) went on sale last week for £10. (£1 of each sale will be donated to the charity WaterAid.) The goal is to get every London restaurant to serve tap water in this beautiful, chic carafe.

To kick the campaign off, at least 1,000 restaurants are receiving a carafe; the campaign hopes to ride the coat-tails of a previously successful campaign that convinced thousands of restaurants and bars to actively offer free tap water. (Did you notice that the Tap Top’s top mimics the shape of a old-school tap handle?)

Tap Top edged out some truly worthy entires, including these two shortlisted designs:

“Connected Pipe” by East End designer Nina Tolstrup

“Tap” by Adam White of London’s Factory Design Ltd.