It’s like the largest, most attractive Brita pitcher ever created – and you could live in it.

By placing their skyscraper directly in the Mapocho River, which flows directly through Santiago, the capital of Chile, five architecture students from the Universidad de Chile have designed a modern, honeycomb-like structure that not only provides space for housing and commercial endeavors, but filters the water as it flows through its lower levels.

The dirty river’s pollution manifests problems throughout the capital city, the students say. So as the murky river reaches their skyscraper, networks of microscopic filaments clean the water; the structure continues horizontally to create a giant “L,” with polygonal forms to hold vegetation so that the area acts as a lagoon. This manmade wetland completes the processes of decanting and phytoremediation, cleansing the river and city simultaneously. To celebrate the restored environment, a large city park is then planned for the banks of the purified Mapocho River.

The building’s whole is actually a sum of individual cells; this allows for optimum ventilation and creates ample “viewpoints” to admire the clean river and surrounding Santiago. Its position in a river with new wetlands adjacent provides the added benefit of a pleasant climate for residents.

Their plan “takes green to the vertical,” say the students, and brings a whole new dynamic to the downtown skyscraper. By continuously cleaning the city’s most precious resource, this structure services the community throughout its lifetime.

Designed by: Víctor Alegría Corona, Enzo Córdova Rivano, Alejandro Cortés Abrigo, Thomas Fell Rubio, and Javier Moya Ortiz.

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