As part of its annual jamboree celebrating the best in design from around the globe, the World Architecture Festival will this year introduce a new award that tackles the critical challenges around water scarcity. Taking out the very first Water Research Prize is a team of students who have come up with a clever contraption to gather and distribute water in the Peruvian Amazon.

Much like XPrize's Water Abundance competition, the Water Research Prize is designed to spur innovation around the preservation of the precious resource by inviting submissions from across the globe, with entrants asked to identify a new challenge and opportunity relating to design and water.

With £10,000 (US$12,700) prize money on offer to further develop their ideas, the inaugural edition drew more than 60 entries, which were then whittled down to a shortlist of 12 and the eventual winner. The winning team, from Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, turned its attention to the challenges around water and sewerage systems for human settlements in the Peruvian Amazon.

This region is unique in that while being home to the world's highest levels of annual rainfall, only 31 percent of the population have access to water. Its solution was to step away from traditional water tanks in favor of a modular water collection system that takes up less space and can be more easily integrated with existing structures.

It consists of a set of vertical tubes that can serve as a curtain or wall, with the number of tubes able to be scaled up or down depending on the space. This permeable wall also promotes cross-ventilation, a key consideration in a region with high temperatures.

These vertical tubes store rainwater collected from the roof, while also treating it and then delivering it into pre-existing water networks. As an independent system, it can be installed and maintained at low cost, and is designed for use as a communal device, reducing the cost per family and promoting inclusion and community spirit.

"Ingeniously addressing the ironic condition that communities in the Amazon do not have adequate water despite having the highest rainfall in the world, this proposed communal water management system admirably addresses both the social community and environment challenges interlinked with water shortage and quality," Paul Finch, Programme Director of World Architecture Festival. "Plus, it is an adaptable idea, there is the ability to replicate the design in similar environmental terrains. It is a worthy winner of our inaugural WAF Research Prize."

The 2018 World Architecture Festival takes place in Amsterdam from November 28 to 30.