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This Tower Pulls Drinking Water Out of Thin Air
Designer Arturo Vittori says his invention can provide remote villages with more than 25 gallons of clean drinking water per day.

In some parts of Ethiopia, finding potable water is a six-hour journey.

People in the region spend 40 billion hours a year trying to find and collect water, says a group called the Water Project. And even when they find it, the water is often not safe, collected from ponds or lakes teeming with infectious bacteria, contaminated with animal waste or other harmful substances. 
The water scarcity issue—which affects nearly 1 billion people in Africa alone—has drawn the attention of big-name philanthropists like actor and Water.org co-founder Matt Damon and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who, through their respective nonprofits, have poured millions of dollars into research and solutions, coming up with things like a system that converts toilet water to drinking water and a “Re-invent the Toilet Challenge,” among others.
Critics, however, have their doubts about integrating such complex technologies in remote villages that don’t even have access to a local repairman. Costs and maintenance could render many of these ideas impractical. 
“If the many failed development projects of the past 60 years have taught us anything,” wrote one critic, Toilets for People founder Jason Kasshe, in a New York Times editorial, “it’s that complicated, imported solutions do not work.”
Other low-tech inventions, like this life straw, aren’t as complicated, but still rely on users to find a water source.
It was this dilemma—supplying drinking water in a way that’s both practical and convenient—that served as the impetus for a new product called Warka Water, an inexpensive, easily-assembled structure that extracts gallons of fresh water from the air.
The invention from Arturo Vittori, an industrial designer, and his colleague Andreas Vogler doesn’t involve complicated gadgetry or feats of engineering, but instead relies on basic elements like shape and material and the ways in which they work together. 
At first glance, the 30-foot-tall, vase-shaped towers, named after a fig tree native to Ethiopia, have the look and feel of a showy art installation. But every detail, from carefully-placed curves to unique materials, has a functional purpose.
The rigid outer housing of each tower is comprised of lightweight and elastic juncus stalks, woven in a pattern that offers stability in the face of strong wind gusts while still allowing air to flow through. A mesh net made of nylon or  polypropylene, which calls to mind a large Chinese lantern, hangs inside, collecting droplets of dew that form along the surface. As cold air condenses, the droplets roll down into a container at the bottom of the tower. The water in the container then passes through a tube that functions as a faucet, carrying the water to those waiting on the ground.
Using mesh to facilitate clean drinking water isn’t an entirely new concept. A few years back, an MIT student designed a fog-harvesting device with the material. But Vittori’s invention yields more water, at a lower cost, than some other concepts that came before it.
“[In Ethiopia], public infrastructures do not exist and building [something like] a well is not easy,” Vittori says of the country. “To find water, you need to drill in the ground very deep, often as much as 1,600 feet.  So it’s technically difficult and expensive. Moreover, pumps need electricity to run as well as access to spare parts in case the pump breaks down.”
So how would Warka Water’s low-tech design hold up in remote sub-Saharan villages? Internal field tests have shown that one Warka Water tower can supply more than 25 gallons of water throughout the course of a day, Vittori claims. He says because the most important factor in collecting condensation is the difference in temperature between nightfall and daybreak, the towers are proving successful even in the desert, where temperatures, in that time, can differ as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 
The structures, made from biodegradable materials, are easy to clean and can be erected without mechanical tools in less than a week. Plus, he says, “once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the Warka.”
In all, it costs about $500 to set up a tower—less than a quarter of the cost of something like the Gates toilet, which costs about $2,200 to install and more to maintain. If the tower is mass produced, the price would be even lower, Vittori says. His team hopes to install two Warka Towers in Ethiopia by next year and is currently searching for investors who may be interested in scaling the water harvesting technology across the region. 
“It’s not just illnesses that we’re trying to address. Many Ethiopian children from rural villages spend several hours every day to fetch water, time they could invest for more productive activities and education,” he says. “If we can give people something that lets them be more independent, they can free themselves from this cycle.”

This Tower Pulls Drinking Water Out of Thin Air

Designer Arturo Vittori says his invention can provide remote villages with more than 25 gallons of clean drinking water per day.

In some parts of Ethiopia, finding potable water is a six-hour journey.

People in the region spend 40 billion hours a year trying to find and collect water, says a group called the Water Project. And even when they find it, the water is often not safe, collected from ponds or lakes teeming with infectious bacteria, contaminated with animal waste or other harmful substances.

The water scarcity issue—which affects nearly 1 billion people in Africa alone—has drawn the attention of big-name philanthropists like actor and Water.org co-founder Matt Damon and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who, through their respective nonprofits, have poured millions of dollars into research and solutions, coming up with things like a system that converts toilet water to drinking water and a “Re-invent the Toilet Challenge,” among others.

Critics, however, have their doubts about integrating such complex technologies in remote villages that don’t even have access to a local repairman. Costs and maintenance could render many of these ideas impractical.

“If the many failed development projects of the past 60 years have taught us anything,” wrote one critic, Toilets for People founder Jason Kasshe, in a New York Times editorial, “it’s that complicated, imported solutions do not work.”

Other low-tech inventions, like this life straw, aren’t as complicated, but still rely on users to find a water source.

It was this dilemma—supplying drinking water in a way that’s both practical and convenient—that served as the impetus for a new product called Warka Water, an inexpensive, easily-assembled structure that extracts gallons of fresh water from the air.

The invention from Arturo Vittori, an industrial designer, and his colleague Andreas Vogler doesn’t involve complicated gadgetry or feats of engineering, but instead relies on basic elements like shape and material and the ways in which they work together.

At first glance, the 30-foot-tall, vase-shaped towers, named after a fig tree native to Ethiopia, have the look and feel of a showy art installation. But every detail, from carefully-placed curves to unique materials, has a functional purpose.

The rigid outer housing of each tower is comprised of lightweight and elastic juncus stalks, woven in a pattern that offers stability in the face of strong wind gusts while still allowing air to flow through. A mesh net made of nylon or polypropylene, which calls to mind a large Chinese lantern, hangs inside, collecting droplets of dew that form along the surface. As cold air condenses, the droplets roll down into a container at the bottom of the tower. The water in the container then passes through a tube that functions as a faucet, carrying the water to those waiting on the ground.

Using mesh to facilitate clean drinking water isn’t an entirely new concept. A few years back, an MIT student designed a fog-harvesting device with the material. But Vittori’s invention yields more water, at a lower cost, than some other concepts that came before it.

“[In Ethiopia], public infrastructures do not exist and building [something like] a well is not easy,” Vittori says of the country. “To find water, you need to drill in the ground very deep, often as much as 1,600 feet. So it’s technically difficult and expensive. Moreover, pumps need electricity to run as well as access to spare parts in case the pump breaks down.”

So how would Warka Water’s low-tech design hold up in remote sub-Saharan villages? Internal field tests have shown that one Warka Water tower can supply more than 25 gallons of water throughout the course of a day, Vittori claims. He says because the most important factor in collecting condensation is the difference in temperature between nightfall and daybreak, the towers are proving successful even in the desert, where temperatures, in that time, can differ as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The structures, made from biodegradable materials, are easy to clean and can be erected without mechanical tools in less than a week. Plus, he says, “once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the Warka.”

In all, it costs about $500 to set up a tower—less than a quarter of the cost of something like the Gates toilet, which costs about $2,200 to install and more to maintain. If the tower is mass produced, the price would be even lower, Vittori says. His team hopes to install two Warka Towers in Ethiopia by next year and is currently searching for investors who may be interested in scaling the water harvesting technology across the region.

“It’s not just illnesses that we’re trying to address. Many Ethiopian children from rural villages spend several hours every day to fetch water, time they could invest for more productive activities and education,” he says. “If we can give people something that lets them be more independent, they can free themselves from this cycle.”

The future of portable printing?

Would you replace your desktop printer with a tiny robot that prints by creeping across a sheet of paper? Zuta Labs, which recently launched the Pocket Printer on Kickstarter, hopes so. The Pocket Printer, fundamentally, is a robotic Ouija planchette containing an inkjet printer head. Place it on a piece of paper, and it will slowly roll across it with an omnidirectional wheel system, printing as it goes. Currently, it can sync with computers, and the team is working on an Android and iOS app; it’s supposed to be a printer you can take anywhere, although most people would probably just leave it on a desk in lieu of the standard box.

Unsurprisingly, its convenience comes with some limitations. The estimated print speed is about 1.2 pages per minute, compared to 10 or more pages per minute for a desktop inkjet printer, and its resolution is currently an unimpressive 96 x 192 dpi. It runs on a rechargeable battery that gives you about an hour of print time, and one cartridge is good for 1,000 standard pages; that’s not the greatest yield you’ll find for a printer, but it’s several times higher than some standard desktop inkjet cartridges. The pointed end is designed to tell you where to set it on the page, but the obvious worry is that unless you have a perfectly flat surface, correctly align the arrow, and avoid any bumps or tilts, you’ll get a crooked print job. For multiple pages, the printer will stop at the end of one, then wait for you to pick it up and put it down on the next.

Adorable experiments like the Little Printer aside, home printers are loathsome and frustrating beasts, so Zuta Labs can go far simply by offering something different. It can be configured to print for any size of paper, and in theory it can even print on other kinds of surfaces, which makes it a lot more flexible than the standard inkjet, assuming it actually works. In its promotional video, the team shows off a prototype without the roughly four-inch-tall polycarbonate shell, successfully printing a message to Kickstarter backers. For now, it’s grayscale only, but a color version is planned for the future.

The final question is whether the Pocket Printer can actually make its hefty $400,000 goal; right now, it’s sitting at around $10,000 with 29 days to go. To get a printer as part of the campaign, you’ll have to pay at least $180, which makes it a bit more than an impulse buy. In addition to the Kickstarter, though, the team says it’s gotten “cooperation offers” from investors, accelerators, and Microsoft, which invited Zuta Labs to present at its Israeli Think Next conference.

Back the project here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1686304142/the-mini-mobile-robotic-printer

Cermaic tiles literally changing the face of architecture.

Spanish practice Mestura Arquitectes’ CEIP primary school near Barcelona is fronted by a double skin of ceramic components forming a lattice, supplied by veteran ceramicist Toni Cumella.

The eight-room, 420-square-foot studio apartment

Four hundred and twenty square feet isn’t a ton of space, so the notion that an apartment that size could be any more than a one-bedroom seems a little far fetched. Well, guess what? New York entrepreneur Graham Hill found a way to pack eight rooms into that small an area by designing his Soho studio as a transforming space.

“The living room and office become the bedroom with a tug of a bookshelf,” explains a post on Gizmodo.com. “Open one of the closets and you’ll find 10 stackable chairs that go around a telescopic dining table for large dinner parties. An entire guest room with bunk-beds and a closet is revealed behind a wall that slides out on tracks. And of course, a well-equipped kitchen and bathroom await.”

Take the tiny tour of Hill’s ultra-efficient home above.

Ibrahim Nehme on Print



As an editor of a print magazine, there are some questions that never escape me. Don’t you think print is dead? Why don’t you have a digital copy? Why don’t you publish your narratives online instead? You know the drill… There’s one question though that I’m never certain about how to reply to. It’s why The Outpost—or more generally independent print publications—is not being able to secure advertising.

It’s bewildering come to think of it. We have a great product. Our issues are selling out. Our readership is growing exponentially from one issue to another. The Guardian has named us as a successor to the Economist. We reach a certain class of young and educated Arabs that most brands want to engage with, so it makes sense to imagine that they’d want to do so through our magazine.

We’ve thought of ways to integrate brands within the universe of The Outpost in a relevant, smart and creative manner, and spent time pitching these ideas to media agencies. We had some really cool concepts that some ad agencies would have killed for, but it never really worked and we never really understood why. People we pitched to either did not seem in sync with what we were proposing or were not keen on providing clear answers as to why they wouldn’t go ahead with it.

I think one part of the problem relates to the fact that the media industry is a very corrupt one. It’s controlled by big fish that in turn control big amounts of money – it’s money that moves under big tables and such, so you can’t really understand what’s going on where. We on the other hand are small fish. There’s nothing big about us except our ambition. We somehow are expected to blend well with the system, but we clearly don’t. And there’s nothing much we can do about it to be honest, besides working around the system and hoping that in the long run we would have dug enough holes for it to reinvent itself.

Another part of the problem has to do with the fact that media people most likely don’t get it. They are used to pre-defined formats: glossy covers, naïve content, recycled stories, redundant layouts. We come to them with a magazine about possibilities. It’s smart, sophisticated, and have a mission to change the world. We refuse to publish press releases. We don’t insult our readers’ intelligence. We take great care in finding and crafting our narratives. And we don’t print our stories on toilet paper.

Our favorite words are quality, timelessness, narrative journalism. Their favorite words are quantity, instantaneity, content. It does not sound like a good match to me.

Sustainability of independent print magazines is one of the hot topics at the moment. The conversation is no longer about whether or not print will survive. We’re past that. It’s clear that print has survived – not to say that it’s witnessing a renaissance. What’s not clear though is how all these independent publishers will survive when there seems to be a big disconnect between them and the people who control advertising budgets. For the longest time, advertising constituted the lifeline of a printed magazine. But given the realities of the media business - and its limitations for independent publishers - the media model needs a serious rethink. And there are signs indicating that change is starting to happen.

We for example have decided to crowd-fund our second year in print. We felt that after a year of making The Outpost, the best way to move forward was to pitch it to the people who see the real value in what we’re doing: our readers. We do have other revenue generation plans that will help us sustain the print edition and grow beyond it, without being at the mercy of media agencies. (I can’t divulge these plans at the moment).

In other parts of the world, Monocle is slowly becoming a retail behemoth, using its stores and cafés to generate revenue to fund its print editions. Offscreen mag has replaced the advertising model with a sponsorship-based model, whereby brands that really believe in the magazine’s mission come on board and back it up. It’s a deeper and more passionate relationship than a double page spread. Kinfolk has become known for their Kinfolk dinners, which provide this food title with an outlet to make money as well as engage with its readers. Wired are making events. Apartamento are offering workshops. So on so forth.

Last week I attended the Dubai Lynx Festival and every media person there was talking about the importance of storytelling. But it appeared to me that there’s a big gap between the people talking about stories and the people making them.

There’s a big storytelling movement going on in the Middle East today, manifested by young and inspiring independent print magazines—The Carton, The State, WTD, Portal 9, Kalamon, TokTok. They’re hubs for great stories and great storytelling. They have readership. They have values. They believe in and stand for something. They’re part of a global movement that celebrates the craft of print and the sensibilities of a great story.

Media agencies wanting to become storytellers seem to be unaware of it all, and if they’re really adamant about it, they need to walk their talk. Otherwise, the rug might very well be swept from under their feet.

Creative advertising maximising space by taking advantage of the primary colors… Ikea’s RGB Billboard is genius!

A microscopic timelapse of the formation of a snowflake shows nature’s greatest design.

The Global Art Forum brings together a diverse line-up of participants, including artists, curators, musicians, strategists, thinkers and writers. It features commissioned projects and research, as well as live talks guided by a curated theme. The 2014 theme of the Forum is titled ‘Meanwhile…History’ and takes place at the Katara Art Center, Doha, March 15-16, and at Art Dubai, March 19-21.

Below you can find a summarized schedule, or you can click here for more details. 

MARCH 15, 2014
6-8pm
KATARA ART CENTER, DOHAMARCH 16, 2014
12-1pm, 2-4.30pm
KATARA ART CENTER, DOHA

WEDNESDAY MARCH 19, 2014
ART DUBAI, MINA A’ SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI

- 3:00—3:10 
WELCOME & INTRODUCTION
- 3:10—3:45
INTERVIEW: Crisis: The End of Pearling in the Gulf

- 3:45—4:45 
INTERVIEW: 1971-79: The Short Seventies (UAE)

- 4:45—5:15 
PAPER: 2005: Alternative Futures of Art History between Iran and Dubai

- 5:15—6:00 
DISCUSSION: 778AH: Ibn Khaldun’s The Muqadimmah 

THURSDAY MARCH 20, 2014
ART DUBAI, MINA A’ SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI

- 3:00—3:05 
WELCOME 
- 3:05—3:30 
PAPER: September 1st–7th, 1920: Soviet Orientalism and Political Mobilisation 

- 3:30—4:30 
DISCUSSION: 1955-2055: A Documenta Century 

- 4:30—5:00 
TRIP: 869 —: Tracing Dissent at the Margins of Empire: Pan-Kaffirism in Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Iraq 

- 5:00—6:00 
DISCUSSION: 1971-79: The Short Seventies (World)

FRIDAY MARCH 21, 2014
ART DUBAI, MINA A’ SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI
- 3:00—3:05 
WELCOME 
- 3:05—3:30 
PAPER:
Sulayman Al Bassam (Writer and director).

- 3:30—4:30 
DISCUSSION: 1942-1982: Kuwait’s Experiments and the Confidence Interval 

- 4:30—5:00 
TRIP: 1966—: Extremely Soft Power; Or, Trajectories of the Sudanese Gulf 

- 5:00—6:00 
DISCUSSION: Meanwhile … Meanwhile: Lapses in Time and Narrative

The Global Art Forum brings together a diverse line-up of participants, including artists, curators, musicians, strategists, thinkers and writers. It features commissioned projects and research, as well as live talks guided by a curated theme. The 2014 theme of the Forum is titled ‘Meanwhile…History’ and takes place at the Katara Art Center, Doha, March 15-16, and at Art Dubai, March 19-21.

Below you can find a summarized schedule, or you can click here for more details.

MARCH 15, 2014
6-8pm
KATARA ART CENTER, DOHA

MARCH 16, 2014
12-1pm, 2-4.30pm
KATARA ART CENTER, DOHA

WEDNESDAY MARCH 19, 2014
ART DUBAI, MINA A’ SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI

- 3:00—3:10 
WELCOME & INTRODUCTION

- 3:10—3:45
INTERVIEW: Crisis: The End of Pearling in the Gulf

- 3:45—4:45 
INTERVIEW: 1971-79: The Short Seventies (UAE)

- 4:45—5:15 
PAPER: 2005: Alternative Futures of Art History between Iran and Dubai

- 5:15—6:00 
DISCUSSION: 778AH: Ibn Khaldun’s The Muqadimmah

THURSDAY MARCH 20, 2014
ART DUBAI, MINA A’ SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI

- 3:00—3:05 
WELCOME

- 3:05—3:30 
PAPER: September 1st–7th, 1920: Soviet Orientalism and Political Mobilisation

- 3:30—4:30 
DISCUSSION: 1955-2055: A Documenta Century

- 4:30—5:00 
TRIP: 869 —: Tracing Dissent at the Margins of Empire: Pan-Kaffirism in Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Iraq

- 5:00—6:00 
DISCUSSION: 1971-79: The Short Seventies (World)

FRIDAY MARCH 21, 2014
ART DUBAI, MINA A’ SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI

- 3:00—3:05 
WELCOME

- 3:05—3:30 
PAPER:
Sulayman Al Bassam (Writer and director).

- 3:30—4:30 
DISCUSSION: 1942-1982: Kuwait’s Experiments and the Confidence Interval

- 4:30—5:00 
TRIP: 1966—: Extremely Soft Power; Or, Trajectories of the Sudanese Gulf

- 5:00—6:00 
DISCUSSION: Meanwhile … Meanwhile: Lapses in Time and Narrative

Seven architectural practices from six countries and four continents. 23,000 square feet. 72 days. One monumental exhibition.

Some of the most creative architectural minds from around the world have come to London’s Royal Academy to give you a new perspective on architecture and transform our Main Galleries with a series of large scale installations.

As you respond to different structures, textures, lighting, scents and colours, we invite you to consider some of the big questions about the nature of architecture; how do spaces make us feel? What does architecture do for our lives?

You are as much a part of this exhibition as the work itself – invited to touch, climb, walk, talk, sit, contemplate - reimagine the world around you.

This 4-panel entryway called the Evolution Door opens and closes in a surprisingly elegant way at the slightest touch, folding in on itself like pieces of paper. Austrian artist Klemens Torggler is the brains behind this innovation, however, this piece is just a prototype. You can view more from his collections here.