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Architects make a water-saving pitch

July 9, 2010 |  7:00 am

Pitch7 

Just in time for Sunday's World Cup final, a pair of architects from Princeton, New Jersey -- backed with a sizable grant from the Annenberg Foundation -- have unveiled the prototype for a new combination soccer field, water-storage system and community center designed for use in Africa.

With the Port of Los Angeles as a backdrop -- chosen specifically for its abundant views of shipping containers, which form the backbone of the prototype -- architects Jane Harrison and David Turnbull, who call their office Atopia Research Inc., joined Wallis Annenberg Thursday to unveil the structure, which is called Pitch: Africa.

Pitch8 It puts a small raised soccer field – a “pitch” in soccer lingo – atop a water filtration and storage system. Classrooms, health clinics and community meeting rooms made of shipping containers are designed to slide underneath bleachers on both sides of the playing surface, which is made of a perforated polypropylene material that rainwater passes through before being filtered and then stored in cisterns below. The design is straightforward -- a marriage of pragmatism and idealism.

The architects, along with the Annenberg Foundation and Charlize Theron’s Africa Outreach Program, are now looking at potential locations in South Africa to build the first fully operational version, which promises to look more finished than the rather basic prototype they hustled to build at the port before the World Cup ended. In areas that receive five feet of rain annually, they said, one of the structures could capture, filter and store nearly 2 million liters of water per year.

--Christopher Hawthorne

Credits: Aerial photo of Pitch:Africa courtesy Annenberg Foundation; lower photo by Christina House/Los Angeles Times.

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