Gallery: Coastal Fog Tower Harvests Chilean Mist


In the spirit of Daekwon Parks’ stunning sustainable Symbiotic Superstructure, we’re continuing coverage of the eVolo Skyscraper Design Competition with another incredible entry. This dispatch from the future of skyscraper technology takes us to the northern coast of Chile, where Alberto Fernández 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. Whether it be south-facing solar panels or strategically located wind turbines, maximum efficiency is achieved by making the best of a range of environmental factors.

The Coastal Fog Tower is highly specialized in this approach, utilizing a type of fog unique to Chile called “camanchaca“. This dense variety of coastal fog has dynamic characteristics: stretching from Peru to the northern Chilean regions, it condenses into a low-lying coastal cloud layer (200-400m above ground) that pushes inland with the wind.

Standing 400 meters tall, Fernández and Ortega’s seaside spire is a cloud catching marvel that stands to harvest airborne water molecules in the Huasco River valley. Its construction as a stacked weave serves to trap and wick moisture into the tower, while its spiraling structure provides a large surface area that funnels water into the basement. Here, trace minerals from the sea are filtered out via a reverse osmosis system, which is much more efficient than processing sea water into potable water via desalination plants. 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.

Fog catching technology has already been deployed in some areas of Chile, providing a vital resource to communities that need it. The scale and distribution of these cloud castles could take this technology into the future – a seaside vista interspersed with these pristine helical towers would certainly be a sight to behold.

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  1. Gingerfish February 22, 2009 at 9:56 am

    hey nico did you find any contact info yet?
    or does anyone have any e-mail of Alberto Fernandez or someone who is working on this project?

  2. agyr July 2, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    This is incredibly well thought out and uniquely sustainable. Does anybody know of similar green projects that are location specific?

  3. Io April 20, 2008 at 2:30 am

    The Atacaba Desert is a very long way to the Amazon Brian Lang. You better keep up with your geography reading

  4. Fog Tower - Chile &laqu... April 5, 2008 at 12:17 am

    […] para el “evolo skycraper competition“. El proyecto es publicado como highlight en Inhabitat por la particular idea sostenible que existe […]

  5. Mike Chino April 4, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Hi Politachi,
    Thanks for your important consideration. I didn’t mean to infer that this tower takes advantage of south facing Solar panels or windpower (it doesn’t). That statement was meant only to ground some general ways that other structures have worked with their immediate environment.

  6. giuliano April 4, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    north-facing solar panels, remember tath chile in in the south extreme of the globe.

  7. politachi April 4, 2008 at 10:26 am

    “Whether it be south-facing solar panels or strategically located wind turbines, maximum efficiency is achieved”
    This statement is wrong, you should do some research about the location of the project. In Chile the best solar orientation is north, therefore south- facing panels will not be efficient at all.

  8. doug l April 3, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Wonderful integration of naturally abundant resource and the continued need for it, underscoring the old notion that despite the apparent shortages of resources, it is actually raining soup and here we are without a bucket. Taking moisture from fog is very unlikely to damage the hydrologic cycle in the surrounding areas as the amount taken would be insignificant when compared to the total moisture in even the driest air in that area…or really any air on the surface of the earth with the possible exception of the Antarctic plateau. Clouds, it should be pointed out for those who were concerned, are not actually “things” in the sense that they are discrete objects but are reaction zones where conditions cause the already and ever-present humidity in the air all around us to nucleate and condense so it’s visible. When watching a cloud one can sometimes see that it is composed of a region where it is being created out of thin air, seemingly, while being destroyed (returning to transparent vapor actually, in the trailing region.
    In any event, a marvelous example of applying technological and scientific understanding to a problem that at other times drives us to alarm and panic and ultimately short-term solutions which might or might not solve the problem but give us the comfort of thinking we’re doing something. I really hope something comes of this as a demonstration bed as well as a beautiful design.

  9. hugo April 3, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Brian is right, unless the fog floats to wet areas, the damage of extracting moist from this fog could be quite extensive. Never the less, these kind of structures let’s peolpe adapt to the world and not vice versa. So great stuff!

  10. Terry » Archive &... April 2, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    […] [source; Hat tip – Inhabitat] […]

  11. M2JL April 2, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I am truly impressed. Very inspiring.

  12. Brian Lang April 2, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I wonder about the environmental consequences of this concept. Where do the clouds go after leaving this area? Do they simply disperse? Do they flow over the mountains in to the upper Amazon basin? IF they flow towards the Amazon basin, then are you sure you want to strip moisture out of them? Wouldn’t that deprive the Amazon of some of its moisture?
    Just things to ponder before building this….

  13. nico April 2, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Hi guys
    Do you have any way to contact this guys? mail or something?
    Thank you very much

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