Widely regarded as the opal capital of the world, Coober Pedy is located in a desert in northern South Australia. Due to the harsh summer desert temperatures and notoriously low humidity, the residents chose to live in 'dugouts', underground residences − even restaurants and churches have been carved out below ground. Underground homes may have helped in coping with the unbearable heat in the summer, but the extreme lack of water and general lighting for the dugouts is still a problem. The intention of this design is to provide a poetic solution to the needs for both water and lighting in a way that resembles the very nature of what the town is known for − opal.
This is a very specific project, dealing with a very concrete issue in a very convincing way. The proposed device, a funnel skylight, is actually very simple. At night, the acrylic cover at the top of the tube opens and the water vapour condenses and forms droplets. During the day, the acrylic cover closes and the light passes through the glass sphere and water and is diffracted into colourful beams that penetrate underground. It is a very well-researched and well-presented project − and the jury finds it a very convincing winner of its category for the Americas.