Esther, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica
Artist Team: Peter Coombe, Jennifer Sage, Eunkyoung Kim, Charlene Chai, Kaitlin Faherty (Sage and Coombe Architects)
Artist Location: New York City, USA
Energy Technologies: point absorber buoy wave energy converter (CETO™ system developed by Carnegie Wave Energy), piezoelectric stacked actuators, Fresnel-assisted convection turbine
Annual Capacity: 2,800 MWh
Esther captures the ephemerality of motion through water and air, harnessing these elements to generate purified water and clean energy. The design is conceived as two parts, an underwater point absorber buoy that harvests wave energy, and a piezoelectric torque generator “mast” that collects wind energy as it sways above water.
This two-part design takes inspiration from synchronized swimming, as epitomized by the classic aqua-musicals of Esther Williams from the golden years of Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Like the swimmers in an aquatic ballet, Esther elegantly moves in unison above and below water, creating a spectacle of the periodic movements of the tides and the forces of the wind. This dynamic movement is accentuated by the reflective fiberglass material, which creates a play of shadows across the surface of the water. At the same time, the water is mirrored on the masts, reflecting a fragment of the sea into the horizon. The form of the masts is derived from the abstraction of a synchronized swimmer’s leg and aerodynamic sailing spars.
The eccentric spacing created by the elliptical formation allows viewers from the Santa Monica Pier to understand the installation as an object rather than a non-directional field, much as the bodies of synchronized swimmers collectively form an elaborate pattern. The top of the masts light up at night allowing observers to enjoy the installation at all times of the day and in all weather conditions. The light is amplified by a Fresnel lens, which sits on top of the masts and powers a small solar updraft tower during the day.
A point absorber power buoy is just below the surface of each mast generating 100 kWh of electricity every day by harnessing the ever-present wave energy within the ocean.
The masts employ technology developed for the Windulum, a piezoelectric wind turbine that transforms wind into electricity without generators while eliminating any potential hazards to birds posed by traditional wind turbines.