Orlando De Urrutia has designed what he says is the world’s first building to get its water from the air. Called the Water Building Resort and powered by a facade of building integrated photovoltaics, the mixed-use structure designed for Dubai is shaped to resemble a water drop. The idea is to use TeexMicron technology to convert Dubai’s humid air into potable water.
De Urrutia first published a video of this project in 2009 and it has recently hit the blogosphere again, which may be appropriate as Dubai’s real estate market is picking up again and water is always a sensitive subject throughout not just Dubai, but the entire Middle East.
Which is why we decided to take a closer look at the concept, even though there is probably a very small chance that this proposal will be realized.
On the outside of the building are solar panels that generate energy and on the inside, the core, are vertical conduits for water. The TeexMicron technology absorbs water from the air, which is definitely feasible – especially on a smaller scale.
De Urrutia claims that this condensation technology can produce 5,000 liters for ever 21,17 people. If his estimates are accurate, that’s plenty of water, especially for a nation that relies so heavily on desalination.
But there’s more to this building. Its entire structure is designed to create greater water-awareness. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi and other emirates, where water and electricity have been subsidized for so long, people tend not to appreciate its intrinsic value. And therefore they don’t try to conserve it.
The Water Building Resort would recycle grey water in a basement facility and capture rainwater (when it comes.)
There will also be a water museum, an aquarium, a couple of terraces, and an exhibition hall. And then, because this is Dubai after all, there’s a hotel spa.
Although it is a bit too flashy for our taste, we do see great value in this kind of out-of-box thinking, the kind of thinking we really need if we hope to survive a future with more people and less resources.
Let’s see if it takes off. In the meantime, watch the video and let your imagination go wild.
:: Juan Cole