By William Lidwell
The Scenario: It is easy to forget that access to potable
water is considered a luxury for much of the world. You are
reminded of this fact on a trip to a rural village in East Asia.
You learn from the locals that their water supply has been
contaminated — the cause of recent illnesses that sound
a lot like cholera and dysentery. In addition to dirt, sewage,
bacteria, and parasites, you suspect other contaminants
such as arsenic and benzene from industrial dumping many
miles up river. Ideally, nobody should drink this water — but
the villagers are unwilling to relocate.
The Challenge: Create a makeshift solution to filter and
purify the water. The solution should be permanent and
able to provide drinkable water for 20 to 30 people. Tools
and materials at your disposal include materials that can
be reasonably extracted from the environment and items
on the supply list. You have 48 hours.
1 bicycle with flat tires
1 car battery
6 one-liter plastic bottles of water
Various lengths of bamboo tubes
Variety of tools
(saw, hammer, pliers, hand drill)
Endless supply of coconuts
$10 in mixed American coins
Email a detailed description of your MakeShift solution with sketches and/or photos to
firstname.lastname@example.org by July 1. If duplicate solutions are submitted, the winner will
be determined by the quality of the explanation and presentation. The most plausible
and most creative solutions will win a MAKE T-shirt. Think positive and include your shirt
size and contact information with your description. Good luck! For readers' solutions to
previous MakeShift challenges, visit makezine.com/makeshift.
William Lidwell is a consultant with Stuff Creators Design Studio and co-author of the book Universal Principles of Design.