Water-catching device wins Arup competition



An international competition for designs to help people without access to clean water has been won by a device that harvests water from the air.


WatAir, by Joseph Cory of Geotectura and Eyal Malka of Malka Architects from Haifa, Israel, won the Drawing Water Challenge, organised by Arup for charity WaterAid.


The device features 96sq m of dew collecting panels arranged in an inverted pyramid shape. The designers estimate each device could collect 48 litres of water a day in remote places or places with contaminated water supplies.

WaterAid estimates that 5,000 children die each day from drinking dirty water.

Below is a statement about the Drawing Water Challenge:


Arup’s drawing water challenge has been won by Joseph Cory and Eyal Malka with their idea - WatAir.

WatAir is an inverted pyramid array of panels, that collects dew from the air and turns it into fresh water, in almost any climate.

The drawing water challenge was an international competition launched by Arup in September 2006. Inspirational ideas and concepts were sought to help bring clean, safe water and sanitation to millions of people around the world.

An outstanding response of 100 entries were received, from 20 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The submissions were judged by Sir Christopher Frayling, Ken Shuttleworth, WaterAid’s Valerie Kuntz and Frank Lawson, and Arup’s Jo da Silva and David Glover.

1st WatAir - Joseph Cory and Eyal Malka, Israel

“A wonderfully simple concept which draws its inspiration from nature."
Jo da Silva on WatAir

2nd Paddle for Water - Maxime Hourani, Lebanon

“A simple and effective idea using tried and tested technology."
David Glover on Paddle for Water

3rd Use your Water - Christoph Wust and Eva Nemcova, Germany

“The future of sewerage in urban planning. All sewerage will be handled this way."
Ken Shuttleworth on Use your Water

Highly commended submissions:
Life Band - Sam Wingfield and Ben Hodgkin, Faber Maunsell, UK

Portable Water Test Kit - Sadia Moeed and Tom Burgoyne, Environment Agency, UK

Rain Water Catch - Scott Wehner and Tim Hickey, Friends of Water, USA
Winning and shortlisted entries will be exhibited at The Building Centre, London until 7 March. Mon - Fri 9.30 - 6.00, Sat 10.00 - 4.00, Admission free.

Posted on Thursday March 1st 2007 at 6:35 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Good idea of turning dew into fresh water. It’s quite good I think.
    But I have some concerns: The first is the quantity of the water collected, is that true that it can collect 48 L /day? As I know that the ‘ moisture in air’ become into dew has its special conditions. Either if the air reach 100 percent relative humidity, the air is saturated and water vapor can condense on the sufaces like blades of grass and car windows, so for this way it’s not suitable for WatAir in almost any climate ; or the air meets a surface cooler than the air temperature, it’s also possible to condense dew, but it has a precondition that the air is calm (or nearly calm), also how long could the glass be cooler than the air, one hour? or one night?
    In addition, it’s a quite demanding work to make it stand firmly on the ground to resist strong wind in bad weather days.
    But anyway I think it’s a good work in the design competition.
    BTW, I have a winning work to save water for washing hands and showering. The details are here :http://www.idcn.jp/compe/compe2006/result/profile/en/silver01_e.html

  • Fantastic idea and great work.

  • Craig Jenson

    Looks like a great idea to supply water in places where the climate would regularly supply saturated air. All the places I’ve been where there are water shortages are desert climates where there are very few days with dew. How do I get climate data on historical temperatures and dewpoints? Would a simpler arrangement of tarps provide a similar result? Thanks for the good idea. As a mechanical engineer with significant knowledge of thermodynamics, I have learned that ideas are cheap and I would like to make an investment to test this idea at a few places around Southern California and Arizona. Please contact me at cjenson652@hotmail.com if you’re interested in helping me.

  • I would like to buy or build one (Watair inverted pyramid) – is there a kit available please?

  • Richard Criddle

    We are working with villagers in remote, near coastal areas of Peru. They have virtually no rain at these sites and water runoff from snowmelt is badly contaminated by the time it reaches these villages. Humidity is high and diurnal temperature fluctuations are significant in these areas. Thus it appears that these would be perfect sites for the inverted pyramid water extraction device.
    However, I am having difficulty in locating technical information on the best materials and geometry for construction of the device. Is there a source that you can recommend for getting these details?
    Thanks, Richard Criddle


  • Seyoum

    We are an Ethiopian business company that are trying to get hold of such a highly developed technic. But we are having problems in locating which companies that are the providers. Can you help us in providing some link adress’. I’m on a visit in Sweden.


  • Philip Jones

    A recent technical paper which explains the more important practical requirements (non-technicals can skip the equations) and describes a special foil which is available is: Modeling and testing of a dew collection system, Desalination vol. 180(2005)47-51 by P. Gandhidasan and H.I. Abualhamayel (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) at http://www.desline.com/proceedings/180.shtml. Dew collection is not a new idea, and while it is good to give it some publicity, it is a pity that previous knowledge was not used to make a more informed design. For example, you wouldn’t put these near trees as that would inhibit the radiative cooling on which the process depends, and the estimated “minimum” yield of 48 L per unit is very optimistic except under the most favourable conditions. Generally, the procedure is unreliable and certainly cannot be claimed to provide useful quantities of domestic water “in almost any climate”. A quick internet search will reveal a lot of information on this topic. Dew may be a significant micro water source for some agricultural industries where small albeit intermittant quantities of dew may help a crop survive periods with no rain. See http://www.harialanzarote.com/stone_mulching.htm

  • Access to clean water is N° 1 human priority…need to dvp + test it asap
    Yann Artus Bertrand will love this concept…you know why…