Desalination Skyscraper For Africa

By:  | October - 24 - 2019

Editors’ Choice
2019 Skyscraper Competition

Bartosz Kołodziejczuk, Maciej Marszał, Marta Wróblewska

As I stand here beside you, I reflect on the hardships the African people have suffered. We all know of the harsh climate that haunts this land. Furthermore, history taught us about the brutal era of colonization and about the following years filled with turmoil. Even though Africa was the origin of civilization, it has never had a chance to keep up with the world. The situation is slowly changing and someday we might finally see the true spirit of this continent. However, due to global warming, I fear for the future. It is said that climate changes become more visible, where the climate was challenging in the first place. Cape Town is a city that can confirm this like no other.

Just by analyzing basic statistics, everyone can conclude the situation of the city. A high percentage of adolescent people is characteristic of developing countries. Cape Town’s population grew from 2.4 million in 1995 to 4.3 million people in 2018. This tendency can be observed in the vast suburbia regions emerging around the city. Furthermore, significant differences in income add up to the whole image. However setting aside social and economical situation, Cape Town faces a much bigger problem that could determine its future existence.

The problem I am talking about is the drought that started in 2015. At first, it seemed normal for this type of climate so for a long time it had remained neglected. But when Theewaterskloof Dam started growing smaller, everyone sensed the incoming catastrophe – Day Zero. And if the water storage level declines to 10%, we will face it. Day Zero means that in every house, taps will be turned off and the water would be only obtainable in special relief centers. As abstract as it may seem, the city had to introduce restrictions to save the remaining water. Living by using only 50 liters of water per day was a challenge that everyone strove to attain.

Hopefully thanks to everyone’s commitment and additional rainfall, the drought ended in February 2018 and after 3 years, we observed Theewaterskloof Dam being flooded with fresh water. Now the level is said to stand at 56%, but Day Zero has been merely rescheduled for 2019. We all know that it is still coming, and we know that if we want to see the city and the country flourish, something must be done.

And I have to say, it has been done. Taking experience from the drought, the council of Cape Town focused on providing another source of drinkable water. As the city lays next to the Atlantic Ocean – the second biggest ocean in the world, the solution seemed to be within a grasp. However, after years of insecurity citizens were also desperate for something to look onto with hope for the future. These two important aspects came into fruition in the shape of a cactus tower placed in the center of the city. Underneath its vibrant moving elevation, the tower hides a fully-operational desalination plant that safeguards a stable flow of water.

The tower also aims to create a social and cultural space for the city’s community to gather and share a glass of water. Apart from the desalination plant, the full program consists of residential apartments, gardens, office floors and also of educational and exhibition areas. As the current crisis is being taken control of, we are aware that the next one might appear. If we want to get through it, we need the knowledge and the cooperation of the future generations. Thus, focusing on educating people on water saving and ecology might ensure our survival.

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