Climatree is a standalone rainwater harvesting tower and solar-powered climate monitoring station. It has been designed to show people that climate change is not just doom and gloom and that it can, in fact, be beautiful. It aims to show how tackling climate change can create a positive vision for the future; a future people will actually desire. It’s not just a rainwater harvesting tower, it’s also a piece of functional public art created to raise awareness and inspire climate change action.

By March 2020 Climatree will sit in the community garden of a rural west of Ireland market town called Ballinrobe. It’s a small town with a population of just under 4,000 people. Larger urban centres tend to receive more attention in the form of funding, initiatives and projects when it comes to tackling issues like climate change, despite the fact that towns like this still make up the majority of Ireland’s population. Climatree identifies with the desire within these communities to take action and uses locally available resources to make it happen.

Climatree doesn’t propose the use or creation of any new technology or materials. It reimagines what’s already there in order to show a small community that everything it needs to take climate action already exists – with a little imagination and the willingness to try new things even small communities can create a better future. It illuminates the garden at night with an interactive led lighting display and monitors air quality, atmospheric carbon, temperature, humidity and rainfall. Climatree celebrates these simple things. Rainwater harvesting, for example, is usually relegated to the periphery of gardens where water butts or tanks sit hidden from view, possibly due to their uninspiring although practical designs. It aims to achieve things that a simple rainwater harvesting tank, tucked away at the side of the garden, hidden from view, could not. Climatree enhances the community garden, promotes climate resilience and asks us to question how we want the future to look. It ties together various community groups, businesses and individuals by working towards a common goal.

Climatree is a prototype that can be improved upon and replicated. It has been designed to be easily assembled and installed. The main components are either laser cut or cnc cut so that they slot together as easily as a flat-pack furniture kit. A small team of local workers maintains the garden. The tower is designed so that they can assemble and maintain it. The LEDs are robust, cost-effective, widely available truck marker lights with five-year warranties, the structure is made from marine plywood and is given a clear weatherproofing coat to protect it from decay. The petals are stainless steel and require little to no maintenance. Climatrees could be installed in schools, public parks, housing estates and campuses countrywide. It has been pitched to neighbouring community groups who have expressed a strong interest in having one of their own. The Laka competition is being used as a springboard to launch the idea to a wider audience.

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