Big, bulky plastic rain barrels have their place, but there’s more than one way to capture and store rainwater, as these 12 innovative and versatile designs and concepts prove. Dual-purpose garden furniture and rain cisterns, personal catchment systems that attach to water bottles, beautiful self-watering planters and towering public installations harvest the most precious resource of all, and they do it in style.
Rain Harvesting Garden Table
(images via: green launches)
Cisterns take up a lot of room, and not everyone has a huge backyard. This brilliant concept doubles the function by turning your rainwater reservoir into a garden table; the slanted surface of the table captures water. Great for those who only need to harvest small amounts of rainwater, or as a supplement to additional systems.
Downspouts Double as Water-Recycling Planters
(images via: seattle times)
This cool concept for urban gutter downspouts turn an otherwise unremarkable element of the exterior of a building and turns it into a decorative planter, routing some of the water to the roots of the plants along the way.
Lush, Elegant Rainwater Harvesting System
(images via: inhabitat)
Save space and beautify your garden with CISTA, a decorate rain reservoir and planter that stretches tall to take up less valuable room. Industrial designers figforty and architects MOSS SUND designed the 8-foot stainless steel column to hold up to 100 gallons of water; a climbing vine is planted at the base and allowed to take over the frame.
Agua in Situ: Rainwater Purifying Trees
(images via: coroflot)
Blending in with nature and providing a potentially life-saving function, Agua in Situ is a tree-like vertical rainwater harvester made of stainless steel with a UV-resistant polycarbonate internal layer. The opening is shaped like leaves or the petals of a flower to capture rainwater naturally, and a carbon filter on the end of each tower sterilizes the water for safe use.
Accumuwater Water Tower
(images via: coroflot)
Doubling as public sculpture, the Accumuwater is like a smaller, household version of the Agua in Situ without the filtering capabilities. The towers independently capture rainwater for those who, for whatever reasons, can’t use their roofs; a hose or spigot attaches to the base.
(images via: design boom)
When water is needed on a large scale – as it already is in many areas of the world – why not devote an entire skyscraper to the job of harvesting rainwater? ‘Capture the Rain’, by Ryszard Rychlicki and Agnieszka Nowak, has a dish-shaped roof and an exterior shell consisting of gutters to do just that. Under the surface of the roof is large reservoirs with reed fields that botanically filter the water for use in toilets, washing machines, cleaning and other domestic applications.
RainDrops: Reusing 2-Liter Bottles
(images via: yanko design)
Not only does this innovative system reuse disposable 2-liter bottles, it adapts to an existing gutter system, providing individual-sized amounts of captured water at a very low initial cost. Designed by Evan Gant, the ‘Rain Drops’ concept could be adapted for use in developing areas where fresh, sanitary water is scarce.
Vertical Garden & Rain Collector
(images via: treehugger)
‘Vert’ is a vertical garden, a way to capture and use rainwater, and a potential screen for unsightly outdoor areas, all in one simple wooden structure. A cotton wick at the top draws water from a tank up to a self-watering planter; the cedar planter boxes can be arranged as desired. Such a system could allow users to grow food in small spaces without increased usage of tap water.
Inverted Umbrella & Cistern Chair
(images via: gregortimlin.com)
Like the rain cistern/garden table, the ‘Volume Chair’ takes a functional object already found in most yards and turns it into a storage tank for water. In this case, an inverted umbrella (which also functions as a sun shade) captures rainwater and transports it with a hose to the chair-shaped tank.
Petal Drops Personal Rain Harvester
(images via: quirky)
Even if you don’t have a single square inch of outdoor space to call your own, you can harvest rainwater for a variety of uses with the clever ‘Petal Drops’, a flower-shaped funnel that attaches to standard water bottles. Made of 100% recycled high-density polyethylene, the design is simple and elegant and takes up very little space when not in use.
(images via: rainwaterhog.com)
The Rainwater Hog may not exactly be a stunning sculptural object to beautify your outdoor area, but it’s not quite as ugly as many rain barrel designs. Better yet, its vertical design saves space, and multiple units can easily be placed side-by-side. Made of UV-stabilized, food-grade plastic, each 50-gallon unit is 100% recyclable.
Massive Glass Funnels at Shanghai Expo 2010
(images via: tonylaw)
At the 2010 Shanghai Expo, massive glass funnels imbedded with LED lights, overlapped with tent structures, served a double purpose: harvesting rainwater on a massive scale, and letting natural daylight into the shaded area while maintaining protection against the elements. The rainwater was channeled into a 7,000-cubic-meter storage tank and used throughout the grounds to water plants.