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This Bench Looks Life A Sofa, But It’s Secretly Collecting Water

The Water Bench is modeled after the classic 18th-century Chesterfield sofa, but while it sits outside in Mumbai, it’s also storing 1,000 liters of water for irrigation.

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With fresh water supplies running short, it makes sense to capture rainwater, especially if you’re not going to drink it. That’s what these special park benches do. Rather than letting rainfall escape, they harvest and store it for irrigating public spaces.

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The Water Bench was developed by Mars Architects, a studio headed by the Dutch designer Neville Mars. The bench is now in several parks in Mumbai and can collect up to 1,000 liters in two tanks, one in the seat itself and another below-ground.

Mars argues that developing nations can’t rely on multi-million dollar infrastructure to meet all of their water requirements. There’s a need for a range of smaller-scale, local solutions as well. “There is a huge rainwater-harvesting potential in many parts of the world,” he says in the video below. “We’ve been thinking about different ways to capture that potential.”

Made partially of recycled polyethylene, the Water Bench is modeled after the classic 18th-century Chesterfield sofa from England. Rainwater slips in through holes in the buttons. Park workers access the tank using a simple pump. “Slowly but surely, we begin to make public spaces in cities such as Mumbai water-independent,” Mars says.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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