Can a bio-concrete roofing system help provide clean drinking water

to those without it? Credit: IVANKA Concrete; YouTube

There’s no question that adequate access to clean water is a growing global problem. In fact, more than 800 million people live without it, and 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. (Need proof? Check out Eileen’s recent post on the subject, and the promise sunshine holds for regions suffering from poor water quality.)

Now, a new project seeks to improve access by raising the roof—a special concrete roof, that is, complete with a bio-concrete system to transform collected rain to safe drinking water.

Budapest-based IVANKA Studio and Concrete Factory presented The Water of Life at April’s 2014 Milan Design Week. Water of Life’s RainHouse boasts a “complex rainwater harvesting system” built with a unique bio-concrete—both pH neutral and bio-compatible with water.

“Rain is the initial, the most important and purest renewable source of the freshwater cycle—a much better choice than any other source such as lakes, rivers or mineral waters from underground,” says IVANKA co-owners Katalin and Andras Ivanka. “The technology we developed represents a high ethical value as it turns rain into the highest quality drinking water in a pure and natural way of processing. It provides access to affordable clean water for small and big scale users, from families to big companies, leaving the smallest possible ecological footprint in the process.”

What makes IVANKA’s technology different from other rainwater collecting systems? According to the project website, “the specific technology allows filtering raw rain only physically in a strictly natural way without chemicals so the equipment can produce the highest quality, sun-distilled drinking water.”

IVANKA showcased their work by constructing a 1:1 scale demo model made especially for Milan. Above it, a fake rain cloud hung and poured down so that onlookers could see the water snake down the special concrete roof tiles into a storage basin lined with the bio-concrete. To see it in action, check out the video above.


Credit: IVANKA


Credit: IVANKA


Credit: IVANKA


Credit: IVANKA

An additional installation of the technology is undergoing testing at the Balaton Uplands National Park (Hungary). According to IVANKA, given the region’s frequent rainfalls and fresh air—“where geographic paramaters are the most suitable for the project”—the six months of testing completed thus far have been deemed “successful.”

Feature image credit: IVANKA.

What do you think? Does The Water of Life show potential—or just empty promises?