Aqua Nostra

Shower house and water treatment in Wurer Ber, rural Ethiopia as an experimental building with focus on sustainable water infrastructure

shower house 2019 after two years in use

1:1 Experimental Project between Flintstone Engineering SC, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar & Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC)
Funded by Flintstone Engineering SC, BMBF, EiABC & 
Bauhaus-Universität Weimar 2018

Water and waste water systems are the basis for any urban development. The overall aim of this 1:1 experiment ‘Aqua Nostra’ was to create a social center for a rural settlement and to kick-start urbanization taking various social aspects into consideration in the process. This settlement had been identified by the Government as a future urban center but was little more than a few scattered huts by the road. Our idea was to build an improved sanitary concept and to turn it into a local gathering point. In Ethiopia, water points are often an important social gathering place. But what would happen if such a water point were to offer additional services such as showering and washing?

Improved sanitary concepts include appropriate drinking water distribution and a proper treatment of the waste water. Both were the part of the project. The shower unit was designed to serve as a shower and a washing unit to the neighborhood in the emerging rural areas of Ethiopia. The design provides three shower spaces as well as a nutrient-preserving wastewater use. Its design principles include the following corner-stones:

Cost-effective: Reducing one of two bathrooms saves space and material and increases the occupancy rate. In addition, this design offers more space to  change clothes.

Gender-sensitive: The shower spaces are used by one gender at a time. This preference was explicitly expressed by the community to make women feel safe and to increase their use-rate.

Water treatment: The wastewater of the unit is so-called ‘light greywater’. As it is not heavily polluted with chemical detergents and cleaning agents, as is the case in industrial countries, the greywater can be safely discharged on a small agricultural area outside, where it can be used to irrigate tomatoes or ‘false banana’ plants.

preparing the construction site for the student workshop
laying out foundations
opening ceremony of shower house with village residents and team
students constructing the shower house in december 2017
isometry shower house
inside the shower house with village residents



Project collaborators:

Jörg Londong, Tesfaye Hailu, Mehary Girma, Dirk Donath, Metadel Sileshi, Andreas Aicher, Asgedom Haile, Jakob Mettler, Olaf Kammler, Marco Schlüter