World Architecture Festival Reveals Winner of Inaugural Water Research Prize

Rainwater Collection System as a Bioclimatic Curtain Wall for the Amazon Rainforest by Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

World Architecture Festival (WAF) has revealed the 2018 winner of its inaugural Water Research Prize, supported by WAF founder partner GROHE: an innovative, community led water management system, designed by a team of students from Pontificia Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) which captures, stores, and treats rainwater and inserts it into pre-existing water networks.

The winner will receive a £10,000 prize from GROHE, the world’s leading supplier of sanitary fittings, to support further research. The PUCP team beat a shortlist of 12 projects drawn from over 60 entries who were assessed by a panel of experts including Judge Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands. Each entrant was asked to identify a new challenge or opportunity related to design and water, and in doing so advance an understanding of water in relation to the built environment. The prize money will supplement existing research that seeks to outline ways in which human settlements in the Amazon Rainforest can better adapt to their specific environmental and cultural context.

The design team’s focus was to overcome the challenges around the integration of water and sewage provision in the Peruvian Amazon, where only 31% of the population has access to water, despite living in an area with the highest levels of annual rainfall worldwide. Differing from a traditional water tank system, the PUCP team developed a system of tubes that capture, store and treat rainwater, and serves as a non-load-bearing wall that occupies less space and can be more easily integrated with existing architecture. The number of tubes can be increased or decreased according to the user’s water needs. The system also incorporates traditional architectural solutions, such as promoting permeable walls and facilitating cross-ventilation, allowing users to address the high temperatures of the Amazon without the need for artificial systems like air conditioning.

By designing an independent system from conventional networks, the designers sought to reduce the costs of implementation and maintenance that they generate. The system is also communal and not individual, therefore reducing costs per family. In the same way, its communal use promotes activities, such as washing clothes and cooking, that generate public platforms for inclusion and dialogue.

Paul Finch, Programme Director of World Architecture Festival commented: “Ingeniously addressing the ironic condition that communities in the Amazon do not have adequate water despite having the highest rainfall in the world, this proposed communal water management system admirably addresses both the social community and environment challenges interlinked with water shortage and quality. Plus, it is an adaptable idea, there is the ability to replicate the design in similar environmental terrains. It is a worthy winner of our inaugural WAF Research Prize.”

Belen Desmaison, Teaching Fellow at Pontificia Catholic University of Peru, commented: “We are very grateful for this award as it will allow us and the communities in the Amazon Rainforest that work with us to continue to explore alternatives for the provision of water to peri-urban and rural areas. We aim to use this opportunity to work on the production of a rainwater storage system made using local materials and knowledge that can be easily integrated with traditional architectural typologies.”

The prize was the first to be announced following the 2017 launch of the WAFX Manifesto, which identified the key challenges architects will need to address over the next ten years, including climate, energy and carbon; ageing and health; re-use; smart city technology; building technology; cultural identity; ethics and values; power and justice; and virtual worlds.

Michael Seum, Vice President Design at GROHE comments: “When first identifying projects with water scarcity issues I did not imagine that the Peruvian Amazon would feature on the shortlist. However, this carefully considered project highlights that less than a third of the population has access to water and the proposal of a communal water management system integrating pre-existing water networks sounds like a pragmatic and innovative solution. We are proud to present the £10,000 prize money to this research project.”

For more details on the WAF Awards and the festival please visit: @worldarchfest #WAF2018

The full shortlist for the WAF Water Research Prize 2018 was:

The Forgotten – Dead Or Alive: Will We Let The Lake Chad Die?
HKA | Hermann Kamte & Associates
Lake Chad – Africa

Liquid Kingdom
Smout Allen
Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK

Rainwater Collection System as a Bioclimatic Curtain Wall for the Amazon Rainforest
Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
Amazon, Peru

Kathmandu’s Civic Waterway: From Holy River to Open Sewer and Back Again
Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources. Sir John Cass, School of Art, Architecture and Design. London Metropolitan University
Kathmandu, Nepal

Convert Existing Intermittent Supply Systems to Continuous Ones Through Reducing Optimisation Search Space Using GA
Development and Reconstruction Bureau

Menis Arquitectos

SoPA Social Practice Architecture

Building resilience in extreme environments: water management strategies of desert societies
CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India
Jodphur, India

NEXT EXTREME (Next generation infrastructure design under extreme conditions)

Hydrating Jordan
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios


The Ndumo case study: Embedding sustainable design in human settlement type projects
Arch Urban Plan
Ndumo, South Africa

Why get involved in World Architecture Festival?

WAF is where the world architecture community meets to celebrate, learn, exchange and be inspired.

World Architecture Festival is the largest, annual, international, live architectural event. It includes the biggest architectural awards programme in the world, dedicated to celebrating excellence via live presentations to an audience of high-profile delegates and international juries.

The 2018 World Architecture Festival (WAF) comprises 5 key elements:

-The WAF Awards

-A thematic conference programme

-An exhibition of Award entries

-Sponsor and exhibitor stands

-A series of networking/social events, as well as WAF fringe activities

INSIDE World Festival of Interiors runs alongside WAF, with its own awards and conference programme. Delegates have access to both events.

WAF and INSIDE are organized by EMAP, publishers of The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal.

WAF Manifesto:

To celebrate reaching its tenth edition, World Architecture Festival organisers launched the WAFX Manifesto in 2017. The Manifesto identifies key challenges which architects will need to address over the next ten years, including climate, energy and carbon; water; ageing and health; re-use; smart city technology; building technology; cultural identity; ethics and values; power and justice; and virtual worlds.


WAF is proud to work with Founder Partner, Grohe, and headline partners ABB Busch-Jaeger and Miele.


GROHE is the world’s leading provider of sanitary fittings and has a total of over 6,000 employees, 2,400 of which are based in Germany. GROHE has been part of the LIXIL Group Corporation since 2014. As an international brand, GROHE pursues the brand values of technology, quality, design and sustainability, seeking to offer the “Pure joy of water”. GROHE has been developing new product categories since its inception. This includes the GROHE Blue and Red water systems and the recently introduced GROHE Sense water security system, which is an innovative component in the growth market of smart home technology. Innovation, design and development are closely aligned with one another and are enshrined in the German site as an integrated process. As a result, GROHE products carry the seal of quality “Made in Germany”. In the past ten years alone, more than 300 design and innovation awards as well as several top rankings at the German Sustainability Award have confirmed GROHE’s success. GROHE was the first in its industry to win the German government’s CSR prize and was also featured in the renowned Fortune® magazine’s ranking of Top 50 that are “Changing the World”.