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Water in Alghero
What are we doing?
Alghero is a touristic city situated in the region of Sassari, NW of Sardinia. The area where it is located has been inhabited since pre-historic times by the nuraghe culture. Having a strategic position to the Mediterranean Sea, Alghero was built around a fortified port, around 1.100. In the present there are 44.000 people living in the city and every year there are 1.200.000 tourists. The tourist sector is divided into 1.000.000 in full-season and 200.000 in off-season. In the present water comes from Lake Cuga, 15 km away from Alghero. Being a very old pipe system between 20-40% of this water is wasted throw pipe leaks. With such big population inflation according to seasonal use it is inevitable that in the near future there will be a big problem with water availability in the city. In the graphic below we showed what is the relationship between the water consumed in Full-season and the one consumed in off-season in the tourist and residential sector. As you can see for the future we will need to change drastically our infrastructure so that we can have a better equilibrium between the periods of the year.
How would the world look if it was divided according to Renewable Internal Water Resources.
“Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses. “ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY (1900-1944), Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939
It is said that you can survive without food for weeks but, without water your body will drastically weaken after 1 day. In the present water is one of the most important life sustaining things in the world. All around the globe people have felt it’s blesses just by living close to rivers, sea or oceans and by drinking it. They also have felt its fury like Hurricane Katrina, the latest storms in Europe, the disaster in Thailand and Japan. Sometimes water does not act on its own, even ourselves give a hand to the self-destruction, like in Russia and Hungary in 2009. In some places safe drinking water is not even accessible like 50% of Africa and some parts of Asia. With global working knocking at our door there will be a lot more places that will lack of fresh drinking water and the most basic water services if we don’t change the infrastructure of our city’s and the balance between water demand and availability. In Italy, water is like a blessing and a curse in the South of Italy it’s drought in the north its abundance kills lives and destroys cities. We think that for the future the balance of need and wanting will be crucial. In Alghero, the touristic city in the NW of Sardinia water availability is a problem, With the increasing temperatures, old piping system it is inevitable that in the near future we will have to change drastically our water sources. For this project we chose Piazza Sulis, one of the most important cultural and social places in Alghero, this piazzeta is the place where kids go to school, people go in the morning to drink their coffee and at night go have a drink at the typical Sardinian bars. Meteorologically speaking the piazzeta is the windiest place in Alghero wide-open to the sea. Architecturally speaking Piazza Sulis is the bridge between the old part of the city and the new one. In the same time is the ideal place to experiment with new sources of water captivation. All these elements determined us to choose this piazzeta as a site project.
“The balance between water demand and availability has reached a critical level in many areas of Europe, the result of over-abstraction and prolonged periods of low rainfall or drought. Reduced river flows, lowered lake and groundwater levels, and the drying up of wetlands are widely reported, alongside detrimental impacts on freshwater ecosystems, including fish and bird life…..Climate change will almost certainly exacerbate these adverse impacts in the future, with more frequent and severe droughts expected across Europe.” In Sardinia for example agriculture is responsible for 60-70% of the water consumption but the GDP is 5%. Numbers like these make us think that what we have going on now we would really need to change for the future.
That is why we propose some drastic changes in the water sector. Dew to 2050 people will recycle 90% of their daily basis residential water. New piping system will be installed in Alghero, new street forms and draining pipes will be adapted to the city. Rain capitation umbrellas will be installed on the street shading what is needed, green roofs will live on top of residential buildings, and water will be recycled in the same place where it is consumed. The filtration function and the social function will be in the same place masking one another. All these are the thing we what to create for Alghero in 2050. All these approaches will be adapted not copied in different cities with different demands.
Starting from the basic need the first part of the chain is residential water recycling. The goal here is to recycle all the grey water that is being produced in the building. By inserting big umbrella like structures that capitated rain water it will be able to have green roofs and spaces for relaxation. The excess water will be deposited in Towers that in the same time produce energy and create dynamic rooms that adapt in different periods to the water level. Drinking water will be filtrated in the same place in big bobbles that are rooted to the walls of the city. Open air piazzetas will harvest installations that flow with the ground creating a stream of water and harvesting rain water.
Residential Building Typology
In the following typologies we will solve some of the biggest problems that a city has when we think about water. The first problem is the recycled water and the reduction of its consumption in the residents. For the residence of the future we will completely change the normal piping system recycling as much water as we can and use reedbeds as a solution for filtrating this water. The water that we recycle in the building is grey water. This water actually is a wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation. This grey water will be recycled throw reedbeds. They are quite literally one of the greenest methods available. They are suitable for cleaning up everything from the wastewater from a single dwelling to some quite serious industrial effluents and making it ready for reuse. Reedbed filtration is a natural method of effectively filtering waste water through bacterial breakdown, reducing nutrient levels by 95-98%. The water passes from your house, farm or industrial unit to a pre-treatment or settlement tank (septic tank) where the solids settle out, then on to the reed bed. The dirty water pours onto the top of the bed and trickles out at the bottom. Then the liquid from the tank will pump to the reedbeds .And will clean by the bacteria’s which lives in the roots of the reedsThere only disadvantage is the fact that the water is non-drinkable but, this water will be used for showering, washing dishes, washing machine, etc completing the recycling function.
The second typology is the tower de l'ESperò Reial, better known as Sulis tower, an important historical, cultural and social place, located in the homonymous square, in a strategic position because of its previous role as bastion of the walled city. The height is30m and 23m large, it presents an underground floor, a first floor and a terrace that offers a fantastic lookout of Alghero, accessible by a long spiral staircase. Nowadays the tower is an exhibition center and a place of conferences. Its position is a meeting point of the main winds (mistral and libeccio) and of the old and the new city. We predict that the tower will acquire a new important role by becoming a point for production and collection of water and energy, between historical and modern architecture. The methods that we want to use are the windmills that condensate the humid air producing about 7500 L/day and an external layer of silica-gel, able to absorbs all the humidity of the air. The water produced will be collect in the same tower part on the roof in specific tanks and the rest in the floors of the tower. In the rooms there will be placed floating floors that will allow the preservation of the current function of the building, but, in the same time lets the water level change according to the season, use and the number of tourist. In this way the water flow and the photovoltaic panels placed on the tank will create a lot of energy.
For the filtration of water we want to implement in the future a bubble like structure placed very close to the city. Thinking that in the future people will have a different relationship with water we what to make this place have a double function. The filtration of grey water into drinkable water and a social meeting place. Depending on the season, the main function is carried out through different methods. During the summer where there is a lot of heat that can condense the air inside a special filtrating system called the solar-ball. In the winter the filtering is done through reverse osmosis. For the second function of the bubbles we will create spaces inside like bars with nice sunset-ish view, small ecosystems with plants and swimming pools.
In the future we will need to use every resource we have available this means even the rain water. Alghero has a Mediterranean climate, this means that the summers are long and hot and the winters are short and slightly rainy. In 2050 we predict that the every year there will be approximately 660 mm of rain. For a better understanding we divided Alghero into 2 seasons’ full-season with less rain but more tourists and off-season with more rain but less tourists. This way we will have a lot of water that needs to be stored during the off-season so more tourists will enjoy it in full-season. The rain water that falls in the city will be captured by umbrella like structures and by normal street drains. For the piazzetas, like Piazza Sulis we arranged a installation that mirrors territorial characteristics of Alghero. All the installation is made out of the same material that flows, creating places to sit, lo lie down and places that show the flow of water. The installation is also composed of the umbrella like structures that close and open according to the need. At the margins of the installation there are reedbeds that filter the rain water and some of the stored water in the tower