Sang Hoon Lee
Designed for Site #3 in Abu Dhabi, on Airport Road near Masdar City.
Design Submission for the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative Design Competition
Artist's descriptive text:
Recycled Plastic Woven Structure (LDPE) with Amorphous Flexible Solar Films
It is a thin net of off-white plastic sheets (Recycled Low-Density Polyethylene). From a bird's eye view, it appears like a white curving fabric floating slightly above the earth. Dispersing sunlight under the UAE’s strong sun radiation in the daytime, this vast surface area of plastic gives a viewer the illusion of it (the surface) being surrounded by a dim haze of light.
The horizontal space under the plastic structure is approximately 0.56km long and 0.25km wide. The texture of the net is mostly dense and homogeneous, but in parts, relatively loose and sparse so that it creates a different sense of space with the difference in the amount of light coming in.
A number of 3 to 4m high Y-shaped supporting metal structures uphold the net, standing on the ground. These vertical elements are arranged keeping relatively consistent intervals, producing similar rhythm of natural woods. With the existing enclosures (a thin layer of woods and highways circulating around the perimeter of the site), these broad and wide artificial installations blend with the existing landscape as if there exist two different woods: woods within woods.
The net is 0.28m thick. It is a woven structure of LDPE plastic sheets. It is an aggregation of a single plastic unit (0.28m high x 2.5m long x 0.03m thick) assembled horizontally. Each has five 0.03m wide and 0.14m long slots; a slot of a unit is set in that of the other. A number of sheets are fixed to each other in the same way and transformed into an open canopy structure.
The vast artificial surface is a thin and transparent layer where people encounter and sense the environment. The thousands of openings created serve as a frame and a new lens through which viewers can look up and observe the various changes of landscape. The movement of the sun is seen through lozenge-shaped rooms between plastic sheets and the setting sun is felt by the changing shadow pattern on the ground. Local birds may come down and stay on the net for a while or build their nests on the structure.
Small and low soil mounts are distributed on the site. These viewing platforms are placed where the fabric of the net is sparse so that people can mount on that platform and have a view over the wavy plastic surface. Stretching out their head above the net, visitors may see glaring white light reflected from plastic sheets like looking over clouds in the sky.
An amorphous solar film (20W, 17.5V, 1.275m x 0.385m, 0.90kg) is bendable due to its extremely thin (less than 1mm thick) and flexible characteristic. The photovoltaic units are mounted on the curving surface of the net maintaining the units’ faces perpendicular to the sun. The eight 0.018m diameter holes are made on each plastic sheet for consistent detailing method for any kinds of attachment to the structure. Disposable plastic fasteners (tie straps) can be used to tie the attachments such as solar panels, LED lights and electrical wires to the structure. Those electrical devices are exposed to the atmosphere but not reachable from the ground and are protected by additional finishing materials; a transparent plastic tube wraps round a supporting structure where electrical wires from photovoltaic units on the roof pass down and connect to an electrical grid on the ground.
Some solar panels are connected directly to bar-type LED lights (not to the electrical grid) and work autonomously with a Light sensor and a controller set next to them; storing solar energy in a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery in the daytime and emitting light at night.
With around 3,200 amorphous solar units(20W) installed on the net, the installation has a capacity to generate 50Kwh clean renewable energy (around 75MWh a year).
Architecturally, it is a field under a wide canopy structure where meetings and events such as a market can take place. In the daytime, the area is open and both residents and tourists can access and wander around enjoying open air activities. At night, with the LED lights on, the still environment will convert into a place for a festive event for anyone.