Resilien Apparatus for surviving environmental change

The Resilient apparatus for surviving environmental change explores the environmental concerns the world is facing today by imagining a future where these issues have exasperated. The project is a conceptual solution, an apparatus for nomads to help their bodies get used to changing urban conditions while travelling. Three possible scenarios are being explored: in London clean food is grown, in Sofia air is filtered through use of air purifying plants and in Cape Town water is desalinated through mangrove roots.
The project started with a research and analysis of the big issues we face today in the big metropolises. Some of them are bad air, water and food quality, overpopulation, migration, traffic, stress, mental health issues and more. The environmental issues that the world faces today are global and complex. They can be experienced even stronger in the big cities, because a chain of reaction is created there: the cities are overpopulated, so there is too much transportation and manufacturing which contributes to the air quality. The same reason affects the food and the water, because the consumption in the cities is so great, that it is difficult to produce enough amount of clean water and food for everybody. As a result of these issues and the stress we are exposed to constantly, health and mental health issues arise more frequently.
Environmental awareness is the understanding of the fragility of the environment and the importance of protecting it.

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Some facts:
“In 2016, an estimated 54.5 per cent of the world’s population lived in urban settlements. By 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 per cent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.” The world’s cities in 2016, Data booklet, United Nations
According to the World Health Organisation, there are 4,2 million deaths every year as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution, 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits. “In terms of global disease burden, air pollution is the cause of over one-third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and chronic respiratory disease, and one-quarter of deaths from ischaemic heart disease.”
“…some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses. Two million people, mostly children, die each year from diarrheal diseases alone.”
“Climate change is altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others. At the current consumption rate, this situation will only get worse. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. And ecosystems around the world will suffer even more.” (World Wild Life)

World’s population has quadrupled in the last century and is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. On basis of this numbers, the Global food demand is expected to increase between 59% to 98% by 2050. Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs

During my research I found an article about a dutch designer, who has just published a book called The Hidden Impact. In the interview, the author Babette Porcelijn states that the number one impact on the environment (in Western Europe) is caused by products (“stuff you put in a box when you move”). If that is true, than if we want to minimise out impact on the environment we have to buy less and more durable things, make smarter decisions, be ready to pay the real price of a product and overall change our lifestyles to more minimalistic ones.
This conclusion made me research the modern day nomads and take their way of living as an inspiration for the project. Nomads move around a lot and they have to be able to carry everything they need with them. They own much less belongings than an average person and make use of the resources provided in the place they are. They carry with them only the essential minimals. So what are the essential minimals for a person? This research project passed through a few different stages during the year of development.
I decided to focus on the bare essentials that we need in order to survive - water, air and food. Following the news headlines through the year, I used 3 real scenarios for the development of the project.

Scenario 1 - air pollution - Sofia, Bulgaria. In the beginning of 2018, the air pollution in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, registered 5 times over the permitted limit, safe for people to breath in. This situation continued for over 10 days. The resilient apparatus for surviving environmental change provides people, travelling to Sofia or places with similar air issues with a clean air to breathe. The user plants inside the backpack one of the plants from NASA’s study of air purifying plants (B.C. Wolverton, Ph.D. Principal Investigator) - garden mum, peace lily, aloe vera, mother-in-law tongue, spider plant, dracaena, ficus, boston fern, bamboo plant and more. These plants have been proven to better air quality by producing oxygen inside of closed spaces. The way the apparatus works is, you plant the plant in soil, water it, and close the door. There is an air filter, that allows air to enter the apparatus, where the plant absorbs the air, and produces oxygen in the voluminous inside of the backpack. Through a tube with a valve on the end, the oxygen gets to the mask, where a person breaths in the oxygen. When exhaling, another tube with a valve permits the escape of the CO2 and the humidity back to the plants roots, in order to help it grow faster and produce more oxygen. This way a closed self-sufficient system is created with an interdependency between the plant and the human.

Scenario 2 - water scarcity - Cape Town, South Africa Cape Town made the headlines earlier this year as the first major city in the world to run out of water. Though it is not the only one experiencing water shortage, Cape Town almost got to a point they called Day Zero, the day that the tabs dry out and there is no water at all. The government impose strict water rationing for the whole population of 50 litres per day per person. When travelling to Cape Town or to a part of the world with water shortage but access to saltwater, the container inside of the backpack is filled with saltwater and a mangrove plant is put inside to float. The mangrove plant filters up to 90% of the salt found in the seawater using its complicated root system. Again there is an air filter to allow air to enter the backpack, and a tube, allowing the person using it access to drinkable water after a certain period of time, that the plant needs in order to desalinate the water.

Scenario 3 - food quality - London, UK Over 50% of United Kingdom’s food has been grown outside of UK and has been transported. Travelling for months, all the essential nutrients and minerals are being lost. In order to be able to produce big durable quantities of food fast, different methods of production have been implied - use of fertilisers and pesticides for faster growing crops, use of genetically modified crops, use of antibiotics in animals and changing animal species so that day give more meat and milk, etc. But the result of some of the scientific and technological developments on the agricultural sector could be linked to the increasing numbers of health issues such as asthma, obesity, food intolerances, miscarriages, birth defects and cancers. In the case of food quality there are 2 options of growing plants in the apparatus, traditional soil planted or a use of hydroponics. The user can choose the type of plant he would like to grow and eat. Air is provided to enter the backpack through the filter, and the plants need to be watered. In case of using hydroponics, a highly oxygenated nutrient rich water has to be provided. Inside the backpack there is also a led light strip that provides additional light to help the plant to grow in places where the is not sufficient natural sunlight.

The aim of this project is to start a conversation around environmental change, to bring awareness to the seriousness of the problems, and to inspire and urge for finding a global solution to these worldwide issues.
Credits: model - Ainhoa Perea