Water scarcity has always been a feature of the American West, but as population increases the threat of shortage grows more pronounced. That ever-present problem was the genesis for the Drylands Competition, an annual contest with the purpose of creating a portfolio of long-term design strategies to help solve issues involving the scarcity of water. It was the Drylands Competition and the specific problem of agricultural runoff that inspired architect and designer Michael Schwaller to come up with his own portfolio of designs.
Schwaller’s portfolio is featured on Coroflot. “Although, not necessarily following the competition brief, I recognized my own issue and theorized a way to solve it,” Schwaller says of his portfolio. His first design is a vertical black water wetland. The aim of the design is to solve the problem of pesticides that become absorbed in the soil in agricultural areas. The black water wetland is used as a biological way to purify that polluted water. Schwaller’s version has a vertical component that serves to offset flat agricultural lands.
The wetland is made up of six vertical towers; three are split in half between light and dark towers. The light towers are special in that they are made with an aluminium that gains solar power, making it glow in the dark. The dark towers only have the light of the opening. “This then transforms them from a science project to a meditation space,” Schwaller describes in his designs. The remaining three towers take advantage of the flowering plants of the wetlands which are rejuvenating the water.