This year our group at Gloucestershire College studying through University of West England, and other universities from around the world have entered the Engineers Without Borders competition. The EWB competition was created in line with the United Nations sustainable development goals (UN 17 goals) so that students in design and engineering degrees could use innovation and research to aid areas of need.
In 2021 the area for consideration was Cape York, Australia. Home to aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders. We were tasked to research and understand the most important needs for the area and its inhabitants.
Using the information given through the brief and further case studies, the group asked the following questions:
· What are the problems at hand?
· Who are the people affected?
· Why is it important to create change?
Using these questions and utilising group discussions we agreed to focus on the areas in which we felt caused the most issues to the inhabitants of Cape York: Waste, Sanitation and Built Environment.
Although we tried to isolate each issue separately, we soon came to the realization that all the issues went hand in hand with the local culture and people, these being hugely important to Cape York’s heritage. In fact, one group of people had a hand in fixing all three of the issues.
The Rangers of Cape York are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the landscape and infrastructure of the area, including localized burnings to reduce the risks of wildfires and the upkeep of the cattle trade as a small example.
With the huge role undertaken, we felt that making these people more efficient would help to correct some of the original issues discussed. Keeping social issues and environmental considerations in mind we created ICARUS.
ICARUS (Implementation of Culturally Appropriate Ranger Utility Stations) is our answer to increasing the efficiency and mental health of the rangers, whilst also creating a sustainable and greener outlook for the area. With the rangers having to be away from home for weeks on end with little Water, Greywater, or other supplies, life was found to be increasingly difficult with heavy reliance on fossil fuels. ICARUS is designed to be a cheap and easy station to be placed at several locations around the area, with the aim of reducing the overall carbon footprint of the rangers and allowing them to have a fully purposed station to aid in their day-to-day doings.
With a quick and efficient modular design considered, maintenance and overall downtime of the station will be limited. Water scarcity has also been considered with an inbuilt water filtration system that utilizes the waste greywater for half flush cisterns, currently being used in the local residential areas.
Local and cultural considerations have been accounted for using local recycled materials and aboriginal artwork created by the locals for the locals. Sustainability has been of great importance throughout, with the use of solar power and storage battery’s minimizing the use for external generators and fossil fuels.
To encourage local support we decided having the ability to address certain areas of the project with use of focus groups, was imperative. As this would gain us valuable feedback. This would also encourage the local community to endorse the idea and fully embrace ICARUS.We plan to finesse the design over time, to see which configuration works best for the rangers and the local community. Due to the modular design previously discussed, although we have mentioned the intended use for the rangers, this all in one building could easily be altered, to include ramps or other access features allowing for change of the building to become a community hub or mixed ability school.This could also incorporate the use of the outside area through the use of benches, or social spaces for outdoor community events. With the local art work fully encouraged to decorate the exterior, we truly believe this could be a structure maintained and built by the locals, FOR the locals. The design incorporates several features to limit the risk of natural disaster, including the steel supports and fire retardant paints to limit fire risk. The raised platform also would aim to reduce risk of flash flood flood damage and create a safe space for all.
CFD modelling to help simulate weather conditions based in Cape York locations:
We thank you for your consideration of the ICARUS project and look forward to your feedback!