A Soccer Field That Also Produces Clean Drinking Water

PITCH:AFRICA is a prototype that could help provide water to Africans, while giving them a place to gather and play.

With the world riveted on South Africa and soccer for a few more days, there’s no better time to reveal a new concept that uses a stadium to bring safe water to the region’s residents. South Africa will be home to the first PITCH:AFRICA, a structure that serves as a soccer field and community center, as well as a giant water catchment system that filters and stores potable water. The prototype structure was unveiled yesterday at the Port of Los Angeles.


The structure works like this: The street soccer field (called a “pitch” everywhere in the world besides America) as well as the stands that can seat 1,000 people are permeable, allowing water to collect right below the surface. The water is captured into cisterns underneath which can be stored either at ground level or below the ground, depending on the site.

Thus, the water is now located at the center of the community, not in a well or spring that residents will need to walk to. The space itself can be used not only as a community gathering place for kids to play soccer and hold other events, but the sheltered eaves below the stands can also be used for classrooms or stores.

PITCH:AFRICA is funded by the Annenberg Foundation and was designed by Jane Harrison and David Turnbull of Atopia Research, who call it a “man-made eco-system.” The kit is designed to use whatever materials are on hand, built with materials as ubiquitous as shipping containers or fabricated locally to support the local economy.


Although we might think of Africa as a dry continent, the rainy season in many areas can deliver up to five feet of rain, an amount that would translate to 1.8 million liters of water which could be captured in this structure. According to PITCH, that’s enough to provide clean drinking water for 1,000 people every day for a full year. While there are no specific details yet on what kind of filtration system the stadium would use, the water stored in the cistern could easily be used without being filtered to nurture agriculture grown in the immediate vicinity, creating a pop-up farm around a pop-up stadium where before there was nothing.

Photos courtesy of the Annenberg Foundation

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.