The Vision Behind the Land Art Generator Initiative
A video interview with Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry

“The Land Art Generator Initiative has formulated an approach to design thinking that intrigued us since the moment we first found out about them. We wanted to know more about their vision and mission, so we asked them for an in-person interview. This video will take you behind the scenes with Elizabeth and Robert as they give us insight into their work from the development of the initiative to the implementation of actual projects.”

The Vision Behind the Land Art Generator Initiative from Forecast Public Art on Vimeo.

Claus Hovmøller Jensen, Plan & Rental Manager at Refshaleøen from Land Art Generator Initiative on Vimeo.

We are thrilled that Refshaleøen is the LAGI 2014 competition design site in Copenhagen! Here is Claus Hovmøller Jensen talking about the site.

Video by Deborah Hosking

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner of Climate Action speaking on the importance of creative input towards sustainable development solutions in the context of LAGI 2014.

Video by Deborah Hosking

Nille Juul-Sørensen, CEO Danish Design Centre talks about how creatives everywhere are breaking deconstructing preconceived notions of professional and academic disciplines in the context of engaging design.

“I think the Land Art Generator Initiative is a cool thing, because there’s this problem… how do we connect with people—how do we connect with Mr. and Mrs. Jones or Smith—and make them believe in what we are doing?

And I think art and technology are melting together—they will convey into each other. When are you an artist? When are you a techie? When are you? …All these boxes that I was brought up with will disappear, and you’ll just be a person floating around.

And I see the Land Art Generator Initiative as asking how can we make statements which are maybe art, maybe technology, but they’re for sure engaging people.”

-Nille Juul-Sørensen, CEO Danish Design Centre

Video by Deborah Hosking

During our time in Denmark last autumn we came across the fantastic company Innogie, whose objective is the aesthetic integration of renewable energy systems into buildings.

The vision for the Innogie solar roofing concept is to construct a highly integrated, aesthetically attractive, adequate and cost efficient roofing solution providing both sufficient heat and electricity for a household on an annual basis, while surpassing current solutions considering price, performance and installation simplicity.

We think that the simplicity and elegance of the Innogie system could have interesting applications in renewable energy sculptures too!

From their website:

The cost efficient Innogie system covers the annual need of heat and electricity without impacting negatively on the aesthetics of the house.

The system’s main component consists of a roofing solution also functioning as a large thermal solar absorber. By using the whole rooftop as absorber large amounts of heat is generated throughout the year. Firstly this heat is used to cover the annual heating needs of the house and secondly the large amount of surplus heat generated during the summer is utilized to generate electricity in a so-called HP/ORC module. The same module can be used during winter as an efficient heat pump which simplifies the complexity of the total system radically compared to competitive products.

Aquion Energy's Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI™) Energy Storage is a solution for flexible micro-grids with inherently safe chemistry (salt water) that is non-flammable and non-explosive, and with no dangerous failure modes.

There are number of ways to measure the cost of energy when you are comparing, say solar photovoltaic vs. coal-fired power for example. When comparing simple cost per megawatt-hour over a 30-year power plant life-cycle, we are now at or near the point in the vast majority of locations around the world where solar and wind energy installations are a better value for power production over time than are non-renewable options such as coal, petroleum, nuclear, or even natural gas. This is not even taking an accounting of externalities and risks. But a major issue that is keeping solar and wind from dominating new power construction is the issue of dispatchability or peak-load potential. Dispatchable generation is that which can be turned off or on at any time and at nearly any capacity to meet fluctuations in demand. When there is a power outage for some reason, there needs to be a way to bring new sources quickly online.

Solar and wind are both making strides in addressing their variability when it comes to base load supply, with increased flexibility in the transmission grids and with some amount of inherent energy storage to modulate for the intermittent nature of the winds and the sun. For example, solid state thermal storage and sodium thermal storage are providing larger plants with the ability to produce a nearly constant supply of energy to match the performance of a nuclear plant. Reverse-hydro offers another, albeit geographically limited, option for large-scale storage.

But we are now on the verge of also seeing a battery technology revolution that will allow for on demand access to stored renewable energy capacity that will make it possible to imagine a more robust and flexible 100% renewable energy infrastructure that can free us from even the “bridge technology” of natural gas-fired peaking plants.

A prototype flow battery in Aziz's lab at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, SEAS Communications.)

There are a number of recent breakthrough technologies that promise mass energy storage with little environmental impact, such as Pittsburgh-based Aquion Energy’s modular salt water batteries (featured above: click the image for more information). And last week, research at Harvard University has shown proof of concept for a new and efficient family of organic flow batteries that use harmless and abundant organic materials similar in chemistry to the molecules that store energy in plants (in this case, rhubarb). From the Harvard article:

Flow batteries store energy in chemical fluids contained in external tanks—as with fuel cells—instead of within the battery container itself. The two main components—the electrochemical conversion hardware through which the fluids are flowed (which sets the peak power capacity), and the chemical storage tanks (which set the energy capacity)—may be independently sized. Thus the amount of energy that can be stored is limited only by the size of the tanks. The design permits larger amounts of energy to be stored at lower cost than with traditional batteries. [...]

To store 50 hours of energy from a 1-megawatt power capacity wind turbine (50 megawatt-hours), a possible solution would be to buy traditional batteries with 50 megawatt-hours of energy storage, but they’d come with 50 megawatts of power capacity. Paying for 50 megawatts of power capacity when only 1 megawatt is necessary makes little economic sense.

For this reason, a growing number of engineers have focused their attention on flow battery technology. But until now, flow batteries have relied on chemicals that are expensive or difficult to maintain, driving up the energy storage costs.

The active components of electrolytes in most flow batteries have been metals. Vanadium is used in the most commercially advanced flow battery technology now in development, but its cost sets a rather high floor on the cost per kilowatt-hour at any scale. Other flow batteries contain precious metal electrocatalysts such as the platinum used in fuel cells.

The new flow battery developed by the Harvard team already performs as well as vanadium flow batteries, with chemicals that are significantly less expensive, and with no precious metal electrocatalyst.

“The whole world of electricity storage has been using metal ions in various charge states but there is a limited number that you can put into solution and use to store energy, and none of them can economically store massive amounts of renewable energy,” Gordon said [Roy G. Gordon is Harvard's Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science]. “With organic molecules, we introduce a vast new set of possibilities. Some of them will be terrible and some will be really good. With these quinones we have the first ones that look really good.”

These new battery technologies are going to increase the ability of distributed clean energy microgrids to impact on the existing power landscape in all sorts of ways. With the inevitable application of salt water and flow batteries into the energy infrastructure of our future electrical grids, the questions are:

  • How will these storage units display themselves in our cityscapes?
  • Can we think creatively about how to integrate these modules into our architecture? Are there ways in which batteries can merge in functionality with state-changing insulation materials?
  • Are there opportunities to create beautiful parks and transport corridors while safely lining our landscapes with energy storage devices?
  • And of course, what role does public art have in the manifestation of energy storage infrastructures?
  • New York-based artist Eve Mosher takes the lead in speaking out about how the affects of global warming could potentially cause severe harm to our communities and homes—and inspires us to take action.

    Her project, the HighWaterLine, is an initiative that is inspiring people from all over the world to take action in order to protect their homes from the ramifications of climate change. Using the results and research of modern scientists, Mosher draws white lines around key flood line areas of New York—this effort thus showing just how each community could potentially be impacted by rising water levels.

    Mosher was inspired to do this out of the love for her home, as she didn’t want to see New York consumed by water. She claims that New York has a significant risk of flooding due to its geological location: it is made up of multiple islands, making rising water levels all the more dangerous and close to home. Most New Yorkers were not aware of this reality, and very much celebrated and became interested in Mosher’s HighWaterLine project.

    There is something very significant to notice about Mosher’s work, and those acting to prevent climate complications have not yet acquired this talent. This is Mosher’s ability to make the scary potentialities of climate change less frightening, thus making people more likely to act and become excited rather than just afraid, confused, and passive.

    Mosher does not blame anyone for current climate issues, and she does not scare the public either. The goal of her work is really meant to create a dialogue between people and their communities about how they can protect their homes from the affects of climate change.

    Though Mosher has created HighWaterLines in major cities around the world, including The Hague, San Francisco, and Dublin, she does not seek to create HighWaterLines on a global scale on her own. She wants people to take action for their own homes, thus strengthening community environmental connection, power, and responsibility to the land on a personal level.

    A guide designed to get the public started on creating HighWaterLines in their own communities can be found here, along with more information about the inspiring work of Eve Mosher: High Water Action Guide.

    Photo from: The Third Ray

    Information taken from the PDF file linked above and from Eve Mosher’s Youtube Video

    Copenhagen Powered by Art
    LAGI Design Competition for Copenhagen is now open for entries until May 18, 2014

    The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), Refshaleøen Holding, and the IT University of Copenhagen have launched the third edition of this groundbreaking design competition with $20,000 IN PRIZE MONEY. The competition will culminate into a beautiful publication featuring the top 50 design solutions, an exhibition in Copenhagen at the Design Society in partnership with the Danish Design Centre in October of 2014, and the possibility of renewable energy sculptures built around Denmark.

    Click HERE to go directly to the LAGI 2014 homepage and register for free.

    Imagine a work of iconic public art on a grand scale situated in the backdrop to one of the most photographed places on the planet. And now imagine this work of art contributing clean electricity to the city grid equivalent to that consumed by hundreds or even thousands of homes. Each day—while walking below its beautiful spinning and swooping gestures of functional solar and wind harvesting armatures—visitors are being educated about emerging green technologies and getting inspired about the beauty of our sustainable future.

    LAGI 2014 Copenhagen would like to make this vision a reality. We’re inviting designers from around the world to submit their ideas for what aesthetic renewable energy of sustainable cities looks like. The competition is free to enter and open to everyone. The view from the Little Mermaid to the LAGI 2014 design site—Refshaleøen—will inspire teams around the world.

    The competition is made possible by generous support from The Capital Region of Denmark and from The Culture and Leisure Committee of the City of Copenhagen. LAGI 2014 is fortunate to have the Danish Minister of Environment, Ida Auken, as its Ambassador, and to have the endorsement of the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy, and Building, Martin Lidegaard.

    The complete list of partners includes: IT University of Copenhagen, Energy Futures, Refshaleøen Holding, Green Cities, Sharing Copenhagen, Danish Design Centre, Information Studies at Aarhus University, Alexandra Institute, and Shawati’ Magazine.

    LAGI 2014 could not come to Copenhagen at a more opportune moment! As the city (the European Green Capital of 2014) moves towards carbon neutral status by 2025 the debate over the aesthetic manifestation and human interaction component of our new energy infrastructure is becoming increasingly important to the planning strategies required to attain zero-carbon sustainability goals. LAGI is delighted to be an event partner of Sharing Copenhagen, the official celebration of Copenhagen’s status of 2014 European Green Capital.

    Thank you for your participation and KIND SUPPORT.

    We are looking forward to seeing your inspiring ideas!

    This year, LAGI has partnered with municipalities throughout Denmark who have expressed an interest in constructing renewable energy-generating public artwork in their cities.

    Click HERE to learn more and to download the Green Cities supplemental document. There you will find information about specific sites in Albertslund, Allerød, Kolding, and Herning. These four cities, which are all Green Cities partners, have identified sites within their municipalities as potential locations for land art generators and they are interested in working with LAGI participating teams. **LAGI 2014 Green Cities Partnership is in addition to the LAGI 2014 Design Competition and is not a part of the 2014 LAGI Design Brief.

    The Land Art Generator Initiative is very pleased to announce that we are working towards the construction of WindNest (a design by Clare Olsen & Trevor Lee and a submission to the 2010 LAGI competition) for a site in Pittsburgh, PA.  We will announce our partners and the site very soon.

    The pragmatic and performative aspects of WindNest are provided through two means of energy collection. Each of the artwork’s cloud formations is fitted with a ducted wind turbine. In addition, one third of the surfaces are covered with solar fabric.

    The proposal utilizes low-impact, lightweight materials chosen in consideration of the full life-cycle of the project from material production to construction, maintenance and even after its role as a public art installation. The wind-tunnel tested tensegrity structure will utilize UV resistant TENARA® (Teflon) fibers, which are extremely thin to give the work an ethereal and lightweight presence. The project is designed to be easily dismantled and updated with replacement technology.

    Scaled for the Pittsburgh sites, WindNest will be designed to generate approximately 150MWh per year, or enough to offset the electricity used by 20 homes.

    More than just a public artwork, WindNest will become a living technology, art, and science lab. Interactive educational programming will be designed into the sites with environmental graphic design and real-time data visualizations that will explain the project clearly to the audience.

    WindNest will present a model for what renewable energy generation can aspire to be within urban landscapes and will provide:

    • City Beautification: All of the traditional benefits of public art
    • Education: WindNest will provide a place for the community to learn about sustainable systems and to see renewable energy in action
    • Healthy Environment: CO2 emissions reduction from WindNest
    • Sustainable Resource: generate megawatt-hours of electricity each year, which can be sold back to the utility grid, thus offsetting the electricity use of the site owners and lowering their carbon footprints
    • Healthy Communities: people coming together to support sustainable development
    • Economic Development: WindNest will bring positive attention to the city and increase foot traffic within the vicinity of its sites
    • Innovation: Interdisciplinary collaboration drives technological creativity
    • WindNest will be a symbol of Pittsburgh’s commitment to a green economy

    The Land Art Generator Initiative is pleased to be working with the design team behind WindNest.

    SUPRAFUTURES partners Clare Olsen & Trevor Lee bring years of experience in design, project management, and fabrication of work at a wide range of scales.

    Designer & Partner, SUPRAFUTURES

    Clare Olsen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Brown University and a Masters of Architecture from the University of California Los Angeles. At UCLA she studied with numerous progressive educators including Greg Lynn, with whom she completed a year-long research project. In Los Angeles and Stockholm, Olsen worked for servo on “lobbiports” and “lattice archipelogics”, which were exhibited in New York City and Graz, Austria respectively. These experiences with servo influenced Olsen’s affinity with installation-scale projects. With her firm, C.O.CO., she designed and fabricated a permanent exterior installation for Syracuse University entitled “PROJECTions” and a semi-permanent sculptural piece entitled “Reflection” in the grand staircase of the Robert Kennedy Library at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Olsen is also co-founder and Partner of SUPRAFUTURES, a multidisciplinary, ecologicallyminded design firm working at a range of scales.

    Olsen’s professional work also includes several years at Kanner Architects in Los Angeles. As Project Manager on the United Oil station, she took the project from Design Development through Construction Documents, pulled 20 permits for the project and started Construction Administration before moving to New Orleans to teach at Tulane University shortly after hurricane Katrina. Olsen is a dedicated educator and has also taught at Syracuse University, Cornell University and currently holds an Assistant Professor position at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.


    Landscape Architect & Partner, SUPRAFUTURES

    Trevor holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Massachusetts College of Art. He has over twelve years of experience working both in the private and academic sectors. He brings a wealth of public realm and urban planning expertise as well as strategic leadership and project management experience to any project. Trevor is currently a Partner and co-founder of SUPRAFUTURES, a multidisciplinary landscape and architecture office. Trevor also works full time with OLIN in Philadelphia as the Manager of Visual Communications.

    In his previous position as Associate at James Corner Field Operations, he led the concept phase of The High Line section 3 and the winning competition entry for Chicago’s Navy Pier. He also led the design of the Central Green in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard and was a senior designer for the Tsim Tsha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong, a waterfront nearly 1 mile in length.

    Prior to his working with JCFO, Trevor completed a two year fellowship with UPSTATE: at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, where he led studios focusing on the post-industrial landscape. He has taught studios at the University of Pennsylvania and worked with the artist Michael Singer, Landscape Architect Martha Schwartz Partners and with OLIN as a Senior Landscape Designer in Philadelphia. While at OLIN, Trevor led the design team for the Yale University Forestry School Landscape, a LEED platinum project. He also was the lead designer for the Potomac Park Levee project in Washington D.C.

    Trevor was one of four finalists for the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture for 2013.



    by Karrah Beck

    The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA is a remarkable building—setting a much-needed example of how modern technology can help save the environment.

    The Center was constructed with the intention of satisfying the Living Building Challenge and becoming a net zero energy space. Through Phipps’ implementation of cutting edge turbines, geothermal energy generators, and more, the building impacts the environment and earth “as much as a flower” (Phipps Conservatory 2012). The center also generates its own energy, and produces more than it actually uses, thus benefiting the outer urban areas as well as itself.

    Phipps has managed to save energy in a multitude of ways, including: 1) superior insulation: this building saves on both heating and cooling, by “reducing winter heat losses and summer heat gains” (exact Phipps phrasing here taken from the webpage linked at the end of this post) and 2) an installed geothermal HVAC system stores heat in the summer for later use in the colder months and also integrates with the roof to dehumidify and manage the temperature of the entire building (Phipps Conservatory 2012).

    This building also has a significant education component and the Phipps Conservatory has already consented to university students having classes at the center and allowing them to study its renewable energy processes. Indeed, this building was intended to set a living example of green energy usage for the rest of the world as we all struggle to become more sustainable.

    The Phipps Conservatory, now in its 120th year, really showcases superior innovation, but in a way that is also simple enough that it can serve as a reasonable example for masses of people to follow and emulate. The Phipps Conservatory has stated clearly that the Center for Sustainable Landscapes stands as an example of future green technology. In other words, this structure is far from just something to look at: it really stands as a reminder that this is just the beginning of a future of responsible efficiency and renewable energy ingenuity.

    Photo by Alexander Denmarsh Photography.


    Quotes from:

    Image from: architizer.

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