KICKIN' IT: Soccer field becomes sustainable source of fresh water. (Photo: Casey & Sayre/
Coinciding with the culmination of the 2010 World Cup, the Annenberg Foundation publicly announced its new contribution to solving the problem of insufficient water sources in developing countries with PITCH:AFRICA. A soccer field equipped with seating for up to 1,000 and measuring 64 feet by 80 feet, PITCH:AFRICA was introduced in a demonstration at the Port of Los Angeles last week — complete with youth soccer teams and a simulated rainstorm.
Football (we North Americans call it soccer) is played every day in villages across the continent of Africa. At the same time, much of Africa's population suffers from lack of access to potable water. These are two seemingly separate facts that the Annenberg Foundation and designers at Atopia brought to mutually beneficial relationship.
An obvious health issue, Africans' lack of water sources presents a safety risk. People who venture to wells to get water for themselves or their families are prime targets for aggression in areas of high cultural conflict. The continent is dry in certain areas and at certain times of the year, but in tropical regions of Africa, rainfall can measure 3 to 6 feet during the stormy season, creating a water source that can be localized by setting up capture and containment systems like the one incorporated into Atopia's pitch.
In case you're perplexed, "pitch" doesn't have anything to do with baseball. It's what the rest of the world (outside of the U.S.) calls a soccer field. PITCH:AFRICA has permeable surfaces on its playing field and seating areas that allow rain to fall through and collect in catchments underneath. This water is then stored in cisterns located nearby. Another goal of the pitch is to provide a central area where residents can gather, access their water supply and hopefully build a sense of community.
PITCH:AFRICA is a truly multi-functional design — even the eaves under the seating areas are set up to be used as classrooms, meeting rooms or vendor spaces. Since 2008, the Annenberg Foundation supported research, and design firm Atopia's development of this innovative combination of resource utilization and public space creation. Atopia's founders Jane Harrison and David Turnbull describe PITCH:AFRICA as "a man-made ecosystem, which is implanted into an existing environmental ecosystem."
With its demonstration of PITCH:AFRICA, the Annenberg Foundation announced that it's partnering with the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) to install the first PITCH:AFRICA in South Africa. Theron, an Oscar-winning actress and native South African, partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to form CTAOP and support "organizations that understand the importance of collaboration and responding to real community needs."
Another beautiful thing about PITCH:AFRICA's design is its ability to incorporate inexpensive and locally available materials for construction, through repurposing or regional manufacture. For example, empty shipping containers can be transformed into cisterns for the pitch. A PITCH:AFRICA can be of use anywhere rain falls, to replenish or even create a water source for consumption and agricultural use and to improve the lives of populations in need.
Inspired by widespread enthusiasm for football in places all around the world, Atopia applied outside-the-box thinking and the Annenberg Foundation's support to bringing this latest sustainable development to fruition. Gooooooaaaaal!!
The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.