CITY OF WATER
Selyin Yi Ding
The Nile river snakes through 11 countries, providing hundreds of millions of people with the majority of their water supply. For many, it is their only water source. Egypt, for one, gets about 85% of its water from the river—and experts expect the country to face a nationwide freshwater shortage by 2025. (Quartz, 2019)
Historically, Cairo was a city whose population and agricultural industry were fully dependent on the Nile river. However, climate change has caused the flow of the Nile into Cairo to drop dramatically over the last century. As a result, the Nile Delta has also been shrinking over time. Exacerbating this reduction in water availability is the significant population growth, and in turn water consumption, that Cairo has experienced almost continuously since 1937. Simply put, Cairo’s has gradually been losing the advantage of the natural resources that gave rise to its location.
In 2015, the Cairo government proposed to move its population to what was called New Capital Cairo, along the corridor between the existing city and the Red Sea. In 2030, the Pan-African Union announced that through a collaborative effort amongst countries contiguous to the Sahara Desert, they had successfully constructed the first Thermal Desalination Unit that could efficiently transform large amount of seawater into drinking water to support the population and industries of the region. The technology proved such a success that Cairo was finally able escape from the issue of water shortage that had long burdened the city. From that point on, the Cairo government began aggressively migrating the city and its population east to the bank of Greater Bitter Lake, a large waterbody connected to Red Sea.
By 2045 Cairo had successfully finished the resettlement process. The New Cairo X City was such a success that the flourishing green landscapes that characterized the parks, lawns and pools became the most recognizable features of the new city. State propaganda, as well as TV shows and movies all raced to present this image of Green Cairo to the world. As a result, many people from throughout the Pan-African Union moved to Cairo for its growing green economy and comfortable living style.
Shortly thereafter however, the government discovered the abundant water on which the new city relied had been dangerously polluted by the new desalination process. Unknown chemicals found in the drinking and irrigation water began causing detrimental impact to human health. Due to the uncertainty and risk of the water resources at that time, the city’s residents started to panic and many began to move to other cities or countries within the Pan-African Union. By 2050, most of the recently arrived populations had left Cairo, leaving only a fraction of the city’s previous 24-million residents deciding to stay.
With continued support of the Pan-African Union, new technologies and strategies have been introduced to New Cairo X City, allowing the remaining communities to continue to sustain themselves. In this new reality, it only snows couple days a year. Water has again become the most limited and valuable resource. However, now water is not only treated as a resource, but also the everyday currency upon which Cairo now functions. Every aspect of the city has been reconfigured to prioritize the recycling, transmission, conserving and storage of water, while limiting, to the greatest degree possible, its consumption.
The clothing in 2050 Cairo is a type of water infrastructure to retain and recycle body vapor.
Home Water-recycling System
Water from trash, vapor from body and vegetation is recycled and collected through the Home Water-recycling System.
Water as Currency
In the situation of shortage of water, recycled water is a currency of 2050 Cairo. Cairo Water Drop (CWD) is not only a unit for volume but also a currency.
Research and technologies helps to cultivate plants that could collect water from the air and soil.
With the extreme heat and dry of the weather due to climate change, buildings and plants are all covered by membranes to protect from water loss and sun radiation.
People's daily life is constrained within the membrane. Residents are only able to go outside of the membrane during the night and raining season.
Rain-sound Amplifier (Egyptian Water Harp)
Inspired by the form of traditional Egyptian harp, the Rain-sound amplifier is not only an "instrument" to amplify the sound of rain, but also a water-collection device.