Lifewall : a modular emergency water storage and wellness system : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Design (198.800) at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
The New Zealand Ministry of Civil
Defence and Emergency Management
supports and enables communities to
manage when emergencies strike, and
encourages preparedness across the
The Ministry recommends a list of
emergency survival items for the home,
including a supply of potable water.
Specifically, three litres of water per
person per day for three days.
The Ministry also recommends stocking
enough food and water for up to two
weeks in the home for prolonged
A natural disaster event such as an
earthquake can disrupt mains supplied
potable water. The resilience of the water
network systems during and after events
is vital for the response and recovery of
the community. Providing safe drinking
water, in the initial days after a natural
disaster event is crucial to maintaining
the health, well-being and resilience of
isolated and affected disaster victims.
Conventional approaches to supplying
water in a post natural disaster event
zone have been proven logistically
challenging, cumbersome and costly to
maintain for extended periods of time.
These issues provide an opportunity for
new product innovation to address the
emergency water supply scenario.
Lifewall, the result of this research
project, seeks to ameliorate many of the
issues faced in emergency potable water
supply due to a natural disaster event.
Lifewall has been achieved through an
iterative cycle of research through design,
building an understanding of the disaster
scenario and the latent performance
needs required by users.
By taking a human centred industrial
design approach, key performance
features such as manual handling,
usability, integration into the local
environment and resilience along with
desirability have been addressed. This has
involved a range of methods including:
ideation, computer assisted design,
task analysis, physical prototyping and
testing throughout the project. This
heuristic design approach has led to an
emergency water storage system with
a modular product architecture, which
maximises water resource survivability
and improves utility before and after a
The Lifewall system consists of four main
BIQC (Bottle integrated quick coupler)
The Lifewall system sources water from
the municipal supply. It filters and stores a
volume of water for emergency purposes
which renews and refreshes itself. It
does this through the daily use of the
living space that it is connected to. In a
seismic event it automatically isolates
itself to protect stored water, supporting
resilience in the community.
During this research degree, New
Zealand experienced the third biggest
earthquake ever in its recorded history,
a poignant reminder of the need for
products of this type and design research
in this area.