Published on May 27th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer


Umbrella Design Harvests Desert Moisture for Childrens’ Hospital

VisionDivision has a very innovative entry in the Design for the Children competition to design a sustainable and culturally responsible pediatric clinic in the hostile environment of the desert of East Africa. Here is what inspired their design:


Says VisionDivision; “When we saw this competition, we felt urged to create a proposal:
Insufficient water is one of the most severe problems in rural Africa. For many families it is extremely time consuming to collect and can easily start conflicts between…


We had an idea that we should create a dew/rainwater collector as a roof and the rest of the building would more or less handle itself. To test the idea we went to the Sahara desert where an experiment with a dew collecting umbrella was successfully performed.”


It is possible to collect a tiny amount of dew overnight even in a rainless desert, if you know how to do it. An upside down umbrella was the inspiration for this innovative design.


The umbrella element will funnel the cool water to a central holding tank to supply the hospital with clean water. The hospital rooms are gathered in clusters around the tank to benefit from the cooling effect of the water.This cooling effect is a bonus in addition to gathering rainwater or overnight dew for water use.


By facilitating air flow between the two roofs, the umbrella shape will act as a shading element for the hospital, because the roof is separated above the hospital building roofs. VisionDivision has created an inexpensive and very effective cooling mechanism without the need for air-conditioning (or the energy supplies that that would necessitate, even if possible), in the totally off-the-grid environment of the desert.

The materials are steel for the struts and a simple tentlike canvas made of a felt fabric to wick the scarce moisture into itself. Their prototype can be expanded by adding more fabric around the edge and moving the pillars away from the center point. As the structure grows, so to does the surface of the umbrella-roof supplying more water.


So VisionDivision envisions this umbrella shape enabling a small but expandable village that provides a more livable microclimate and some water to all those underneath. Very cool.

Via ArchDaily


US Fed News Service, Including US State News May 4, 2006 The U.S. Army Japan issued the following article in Torii:

By Meggan Kring Special to Torii The Army Distributed Learning System (DLS), part of the Army’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), recently announced that it has been included among the Top 50 programs announced by the Innovations in American Government Awards – considered the “Oscars” of government – and is eligible to win one of seven grants.

Army e-Learning, a component of DLS, earned the honor based on the outstanding professional and personal Web-based training it provides to 1.4 million Soldiers and Army civilians worldwide. The online curriculum includes 2,600 courses in IT, foreign languages, business, leadership and professional development and is available anytime, anywhere, at no cost. army e learning

“This is an amazing accomplishment for our program,” said Lt. Col. Robert A. Bean, product manager for Distributed Learning System. “DLS took ownership of Army e-Learning in mid-2005. Since then, we have more than doubled our enrollment. The product offered to users and the cost savings for the Army, is something to be noticed.” Now in its 19th year, the Innovations in American Government Awards are a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The Innovations Awards are administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. army e learning

The Top 50 programs exemplify the most innovative, creative and results-oriented efforts in government today that are making a real and significant difference in the lives of countless Americans.

The selection committee chose the Top 50 programs, representing governments at the federal, tribal, state, county and city levels, for their novelty and creativity, effectiveness at addressing significant issues and problems, and the ability to be replicated by other jurisdictions. The programs represent governments’ best efforts in the areas of education and training, criminal justice and public safety, economic and community development, housing, health and social services, management, transportation, public works and environment.

Eighteen finalists, chosen from among the 50, were announced during Public Service Recognition Week. The National Selection Committee on Innovation in American Government will then select five winners in addition to two special awards: the Annie E. Casey Foundation Innovations Award for Children and Family Services and the Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Innovation in Affordable Housing. These seven recipients of $100,000 awards will be announced July 10 at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

As part of the Army’s PEO EIS, the DLS is a worldwide distributed learning system responsible for fielding multiple training systems simultaneously and the success of each program directly impacts the Army’s ability to meet its training mission. To date, DLS has trained over 750,000 Soldiers through one of the five components it supports: Digital Training Facilities, Enterprise Management System, Army Learning Management System, Deployed Digital Training Campuses and Army e-Learning.

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