The Atacama Desert is the driest place on the planet and many believe that agriculture is almost impossible on this land. But then modern designers along with their creativity and technological brilliance are making the impossible possible. This is being done by harnessing water from the mist clouds that hover above the desert edge with a structure that is almost like a magic site out of an ancient land.
We go to the northern coast of Chile, where Alberto Fernandez and Susana Ortega have conceived of a Fog Tower that absorbs and channels water from its mist enshrouded environs. This pristine helical structure would allow for the development of a sustainable agriculture environment at the edge of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. One of the most promising approaches to sustainable architecture is the design of structures that benefit from the unique profile of their immediate environment.
The structure looks magical and almost impossible to actually. The Coastal Fog Tower is highly specialized in this approach, utilizing a type of fog unique to Chile called “camanchaca“. Standing 400 meters tall, Fernandez and Ortega’s seaside spire is a cloud catching marvel that stands to harvest airborne water molecules in the Huasco River valley. The Fog Tower is like an inverted screw, to put it in a simple fashion, and is amazing to watch.
More than the structure, it is the idea and the implementation of it that are commendable. The end result is a water distribution system with a planned performance of 2-20 liters per square meter of vertical surface, producing from 20,000 to 200,000 liters of water per day. This structure is a tribute to green designing and architectural brilliance. It shows what we can do when we amalgamate imagination with ingenuity.