photos by Sam Oberter © 2011

Rainwater trickles from the downspout into the 58-gallon tank of the Fitzwater, a sleek stainless steel collector that sources runoff to pots, planters, and watering cans. Leftover stainless steel from the Fitzwater’s manufacturing is enough for the company to make the Wallace, a 12-gallon gravity fed tank popular for use off decks.

Architect Mario Gentile, founder and CEO of Philadelphia-based Shift Space Design, updated the polyethylene blue barrel standard for rainwater collection and created an elegant system that fits high-end exteriors and tight urban backyards. “We can get really custom,” Gentile says. “We designed an 8-gallon rain tank on the front of a historic home, powder coated the stainless steel a historic brown to match the gutters, and laser cut a leaf motif into it. In the winter, there’s a lever that closes off the collection and bypasses rainwater right to the overflow pipe.”

Stainless steel is the perfect medium for handling freeze-thaw cycles, Gentile says, and gives this green innovation a much-needed modern makeover. Next, Gentile plans to create a collector that purifies rainwater so the tanks tap potable water. Shift Space Design. 215.221.4840.