Better Living Challenge


About Our Finalists: Michelle Collis

Oct 08, 2014

Supplying safe and secure water through the rooftops of low-income homes


Cape Town-based designer Michelle Collis has created the Ikayacap, a new solution designed to provide safe, clean water to low-income communities.


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The global water crisis claims 3.4 million lives each year. The statistics for South Africa is equally concerning. In 2011, Stats SA reported that 5.7% of the population did not have access to a toilet, or uses bucket toilets. In a population of 52 million, that is nearly three million people.


To Better Living Challenge finalist Michelle Collis of District One Architects, this is not just a statistic. It is 3 million people with names, families, hopes and dreams. When confronted with their grim reality, she believes we must respond − and that is exactly what she has done with the Ikayacap, a low-arched tented dome, shower cap-like rooftop that fits over an existing roof structure and a new concept designed to supply water to low-income homes.


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The Ikayacap, constructed from a recycled Teflon cover, harvests rain water from the roof-top gutter, acting as an integral water pouch that directs the water into a collection point – ready for use. This cleanable pouch functions as an accessible bathing facility while securing and weighting the structure and preventing the surrounding areas from becoming flooded. This helps to keep the interior dry, relieving overcrowding, reducing electrocutions, cutting the risk of disease and protecting home assets from damage.


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Working with the existing roof structure, rocks and tyres, the low-arched Teflon tented dome is held in tension and tightened around the rim of the informal dwelling for a flexible and snug fit. The homeowner can adjust the tension according to the weather conditions. When it rains, the Ikayacap’s four outlets release a clean, safe supply of water into a Coca-Cola bottle or a gutter with a water filter.

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This is why the Ikayacap is unique. It works with the existing system, treating tyres as a structure and adapting to the roof’s shape through its tensile toggle system, using the roof to harvest water.


“My solution makes immediate water needs accessible in critical periods while also supporting community construction and hopefully business development,” says Michelle. The design is certainly a game-changing first. It is also made from recycled materials – billboard vinyls and tyres.