The easiest way to describe Rainhouse, a show installation from “designer concrete brand” IVANKA that recently wrapped up a head-turning public debut at Milan Design Week 2014, is to describe it as a Brita that you can sleep, eat, and work inside of — that is, the entire structure serves as a one giant water filter.
Because real rain wasn’t exactly welcomed at last month’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano, the built-to-scale demo abode — the crown jewel of IVANKA's Water for Life Project — was outfitted with a fake cloud. The giant, drizzle-letting cotton ball suspended directly above the structure was instrumental in showcasing the technology at hand: IVANKA’s patented “bio-concrete” that's capable of transforming rainwater into high-quality drinking water through a multi-stage, chemical-free filtration process.
Katalin Ivanka, creative director of the Budapest-based company, describes the system to Architizer as being “the missing link for ecological housing.” In other words, while even the most ultra-green homes may feature rainwater and greywater recycling/filtration systems for irrigation and toilet-flushing purposes, sustainable housing that incorporates rainwater harvesting systems exclusively designed for drinking is a rarity.

The company explains the overall purpose of the technology in a press statement:
Because of the global population growth more and more freshwater is needed on Earth. Freshwater is an indispensable material of life but unfortunately nowadays it is becoming more and more difficult to get it. In the near future priority of human needs will be inverted and among others, freshwater will be appreciated. It will be more important than oil or precious metals. Rain is the initial, the most important and purest, renewable source of the freshwater cycle — a much better choice than any other source such as lakes, rivers or mineral waters from underground. The technology we are working on represents a high ethical value as it turns rain into the highest quality drinking water in a pure and natural way of processing. It will provide access to affordable clean water for small and big scale users, from families to big companies, leaving the smallest possible ecological footprint in the process.

So how exactly does it work you ask? IVANKA itself refers to the multi-stage process (the water passes through both special roofing tiles and a bioconcrete-lined holding tank before making its way to your drinking glass) as being “complex” and that the pH-softening concrete itself has “bio-compatible influences” on water.

Pacific Northwest — are you listening?

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Bio-concrete abode offers next-level rainwater recycling
A 'designer concrete' firm from Hungary thinks we should conserve by drinking rainwater — and they've got some remarkable technology to help us do it.