Land   |   Art   |   Generator

In the Arabic language, there are at least ten names for water based upon salinity and potability.  Beginning with ujaj, which is the bitterest and most saline water, and ending with zulal, clear, sweet, cool water. DEWelectric encompasses the principle of the bitterest of water to the sweetest.

The artwork consists of three components: an array of pneumatic condensers, a channeled walkway, and a shaded community gathering space that celebrates the vitality of water.

The Namib Desert beetle (genus Stenocara) survives in the harsh environment of the Namib Desert where only a half-inch of rain falls annually. In response to the arid environment, the beetle has developed a unique water collection mechanism.  A series of small bumps on the surface of its wings enable the beetle to collect water from fog that forms in the early morning and blows across the desert floor. When the beetle positions its body at 45 degrees the fog collects on its back and runs down the wings to its mouth, supplying the animal with water necessary for its survival. 

Mimicking the Namib Beetle, each ‘water stalk’ condenser in DEWelectric is designed to draw water out of the air while simultaneously generating electricity and providing both fresh water and power to the region. Each condenser is constructed from a pneumatic tube that circulates fluid cooled by seawater.  When the warm moist air reaches the surface of the tubes, water vapor condenses on the colder surface of the tower that is textured much like the beetle’s hydrophilic shell. The coolant is then returned to the sea in a closed loop system to be re-chilled by the sea. The delta in temperature around the chilled water stock towers creates a negative pressure that draws air down the column spinning a 7.5 kilowatt wind turbine that generates electricity to feed the grid as well as the pumps that draw the water from the sea to the condensers. 

A total of 475 proposed towers are distributed in a semi-random array that extends throughout the site in a pattern that resembles the natural flow of water to or from a single source.  Each tower, approximately 4.5 meters in diameter and 16 meters high will generate 180 kilowatt hours per day of electricity and 485 liters of water per day. This passive method of water collection also reduces consumption from the grid by a total of 3,217,600 kilowatts of power per year, a conservative estimate for even the most efficient and state of the art desalinization plant. This is output scalable depending on desired performance criteria. Supported on tripod legs that interlock together to add an organic quality to the repetitive tower elements and supports, they tread lightly on the land in order to reduce its impact to the site. These support legs become a tensegrity structural system enhanced by a protective shade covering device that collects and funnels water over the bowl shaped ‘rain space’ gathering area. The cooling effects of the tower clusters and shading devices creates comfortable places and subtle climatic shifts for people to gather and explore the passive systems of Yaz Island’s DEWelectric that benefits the entire region.


Design Team: Ian Campbell & Zero Plus