Water Harvesting Dome
Through the urbanXchanger research project, sponsored by the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft, we came in contact with the community of Miravalle in Mexico City. Miravalle is located in the far -east end of the city, at the foothill of the Guadalupe volcano.
The community has access to the city’s centralized water network only once a week. People store water for house-use in buckets and cisterns; and buy potable water from tank-trucks because commercial water is too expensive. They do not have a culture of recycling and harvesting, nor infiltration infrastructure. Despite the community’s proximity to the Guadalupe volcano, the people had completely turned their back on the natural world. So our first step was to design a site-action inviting the local people to take a walk up the volcano hill. The walk was a social breakthrough: for the first time, they looked at Miravalle from the volcano’s perspective. The irony of this fact could not be any greater considering Miravalle literally means in Spanish “Look at the valley”. After site-actions such as these, architectural interventions in communities are more effective: change begins with a positive shift of perception.
Together with the community we observed there was an underused dome covering a public area already surrounded by a public dining hall, a health center and a library. Through low-cost interventions, we recycled the dome as a rainwater harvesting structure supplying potable water to the community’s dining hall that invites the general public to pump drinkable water out to an open source, by pedaling on a fixed bicycle.
The social impact of the intervention could be summed up as follows:
- It decentralizes water supply.
- It sets a cultural precedent for sustainable water use.
- It is a pedagogical infrastructural tool operated by the community which could detonate the integration of water recycling into private homes and other public spaces.
- It is a visible public element that symbolically represents Miravalle’s autonomous sustainable solutions, self-management and awareness.
- It counteracts the general feeling that water is a lacking resource that “gets” to homes; instead, the dome gives back to the people active responsibility and control over the local management of this resource.
Location: Miravalle, Iztapalapa, Mexico City
Project: Rozana Montiel | Alin V. Wallach
Year of construction: 2015-2016, built