How morning dew aids Architecture and design

How morning dew aids Architecture and design

Morning dew, enjoyed by early walkers and athletes, is also a matter of pleasing daily meal of many species in the world, specially desert beings. Temperature changes convert daily heat into misty ambience by condensation, visually perceived on our glass buildings, car surfaces and plants. But how can it aid our designs and architectural structures?

Fog harvesting
Man has been harvesting fog for a long time now. Countries with high grounds such as South American countries like Perú, and desert areas in Africa, have climate changes that provide exaggerated amounts of fog. Survivalists used to wrap up their legs with clean sheets of cotton and walk around plants during fog to absorb humidity and harvest water. Other systems (still used today) involve capturing fog with big nets connected to a single horizontal pipe that harvests water in a tank. In the same line, a billboard that can produce more than 96 lts per day, was designed for Peru, where desert zones constantly suffer from drought as any African desert, although its filtering system comprised of carbon is an addition to the traditional system.
Nowadays, Biomimetic Designs venture us to visualize living organisms in order to understand their uniqueness towards certain environmental effects and self-survival instincts. One that has captured attention is the Namibian Beetle and its natural drought survivalism. Evolution has taught us that living species have been evolving according to the place of origin it has been placed from day one and every single climatic change it has or hasn’t been able to survive.

Namibian beetle taking advantage of morning water drops from the dessert fog.

Namibian beetle taking advantage of morning water drops from the dessert fog.

A series of proposals have been brought pertaining solutions for self-sustainable construction and responsiveness to climatic changes of the environment. In the case of drought, many animals such as the Lungfish, dessert frog, camels and this desert beetle, basically all species that live in the desert are specimens to be studies for drought survival.

Water absorption process
Beetles survive the desert by taking advantage of environmental temperature changes. Heat during the day and cold by night provokes  condensation and fog, creating a delicate mist that settles on plants. Beetles place themselves on high points of the desert with their rear bottoms raised up to the air so that water condensed by night falls on their bodies ending up on their mouth to be absorbed and preserved. The next video explains briefly how they do this, watch how beautifully a group of beetles congregate every morning to obtain water.

Architecture and Design
Inspired by the beetle’s water uptake, designers have been envisioning various systems that imitate this living organism. Airdropis a water irrigation system that delivers controlled water directly to the roots of the plants. This solution, received and honorable mention in 2011 by the Global James Dyson Awards but it surely has something to provide for agricultural communities.

airdrop_irrigation_2011_james_dyson_awards_02 airdrop_irrigation_2011_james_dyson_awards_03

Architecture has also applied this technique with interesting proposals that might soon change the ideas of water sources and the possibilities of a sustainable building that has constant connection to the environment in order to provide water to maintain green roofs, provide potable water systems from this natural source. Hydroskin proposal, also envisions the future of Architecture with a biomimetic structure that resembles what the beetle does when harvesting water. Systemic pockets provide storage for water which is then distributed along the building.

Proposal by Architects  Hunter Ruthrauff, Hayley Stewart, and Garrett Van Leeuwen

Proposal by Architects Hunter Ruthrauff, Hayley Stewart, and Garrett Van Leeuwen



Fog harvesting should be taken into account for high top mountain designs where fog is expected. This happens to be a great technique for natural resources without the need of energy consumption and filtering systems. Although it must be preserved, trees are not required to be harvested, trees are even more important as dew catchers.


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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.