Tuesday, November 3, 2009

'The Bio-Sand Filter' By Andreea Toca

As architects, engineers, innovators, and designers, we can begin to create, build and design in such a way that we bring forthcoming positive change to the places we live in. This positive change can be extended and applied towards subsistent urbanized areas, such as slums. Since we have the power to create innovative technologies, we can help these areas attain better physical infrastructure conditions. One important part to good physical infrastructure, is the ability to get and have access to clean drinking water. The Bio-Sand Filter is one way architects and engineers can provide this access to less developed, and densely populated areas.

1. The Bio-Sand Filter

Slums have taught us that when living in densely packed, close quarters, disease can spread rather quickly. This is important to know when developing infrastructure, as to know what exactly you are designing for and the conditions that apply. The bio-sand filter is a concrete block that filters the water using sand. However, the same method can be applied if the block is to be made from plastic or metal drums. There are many reasons why it is a beneficial technological development, whether its an economic, sanitary, agricultural or architectural reasons.

2. Slums

From an economic perspective, Bio-Soil Filters (BSF) are quite simple and cost-efficient to manufacture for slum dwellers in developing countries. Part of this reason is due to the fact that they are not mass produced, but rather usually "small-scale micro-projects". These micro-projects are usually led by humanitarian groups or NGO's, that provide and pay for the implementation of the concrete filters. The costs of implementing the filters are quite reasonable when building concrete filters. The cost does go up if trying to implement a plastic filter (which is a newer innovation), but if subsidized, it is possible to implement. Aside from costs, resources are very important in the implementation. To build the filter itself, the concrete needs a metal mould, hence a metal workshop is required in order to make the moulds. As well, in preparation for the filter, sand must be acquired. It is important to note that if the site itself does not have sand readily available, it must be extracted from elsewhere, therefore raising the costs.

From a sanitary perspective, BSF is quite effective in filtering out contaminated particles that exist in the water. However the surrounding site, and the quality of the water it is set out to filter, both affect how well the BSF will function. This goes hand-in-hand with the agricultural perspective, and the proposed site has to be tested before implementing a BSF. The filter, while it will withstand short periods of heavy contamination, will not operate effectively when filtering extremely murky water, as the solids in the water settle at the top, and it slows down the flow of water. Due to this fact, BSF's are usually installed in areas that are dependent on surface water as their main source of water.

3. Left: water after BSF, Right: water before BSF

Relating back to the economic value of the BSF's, they are economic also in the way that they are designed. The traditional rectangular shape shows minimalism at its best, however the new circular design uses less material, and therefore is more economical. When BSF's are created from concrete, both rectangular and circular, they display a very industrial, minimalist look. Personally I believe, this is a very architecturally appealing look, and it fits well into any space, as concrete tends to blend into its surroundings. However, plastic and metal BSF's are not as pleasing to the eye.

4. A circular metal BSF

Image Sources:

1. "Bio Sand Filter." Photograph. (n.d.) From Borda South Asia. http://www.borda-sa.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=258 (accessed Nov. 3, 2009).

2. Rikka. "Slums." Photograph. 2008. From Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/rikkya/2370421359/ (accessed Nov. 3, 2009).

3. Cvcf.com. "After & Before." Photograph. 2008. From Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/23518725@N06/2535001805/ (accessed Nov. 3, 2009).

4. Oxfam International. "7 yr old Shanta Rame Ale using a water filter recently installed in the family home" Photograph. 2009. From Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/3881286434/(accessed Nov. 3, 2009).

Information Sources:

Eric Fwester and Adriaan Mol, " Small-Scale Micro-Projects," 2004, http://www.biosandfilter.org/biosandfilter/index.php/item/265 (accessed Nov. 3, 2009).

Eric Fwester and Adriaan Mol, " How to start a Filter Project," 2004, http://www.biosandfilter.org/biosandfilter/index.php/item/273 (accessed Nov. 3, 2009).

- Andreea Toca

No comments:

Post a Comment