· August 2011

August 2011

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Freshkills Park, Spring 2011

We would like to present a sneak preview of the 2012 LAGI design competition for Freshkills Park in New York City by posting the supporters and jurors that we have commitments from so far. We are still creating new partnerships, so we’ll be updating this list throughout the autumn. But we’re hearing from many people who want to see more information about next year’s competition, so we thought we’d post this update here and extend our thanks to those who have pledged their support so far.

The competition will open in early January of 2012 for registration and design materials & information downloads, and submissions will close in early July of 2012. More information will be coming soon and will all be available at http://landartgenerator.org/designcomp.html.

Prize award money of $20,000 has been committed and shall be awarded per the determination of the jury.

Jury members include:

  • Bjarke Ingels, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
  • Dr. Henry Kelly, Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy
  • Jean Gardner, Associate Professor of Social Ecological History, Parsons New School, School of Constructed Environments
  • Public Design Commission of the City of New York
  • Patricia Watts & Amy Lipton, ecoartspace
  • Melanie Cohn, Executive Director, Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island
  • Staten Island Economic Development Corporation
  • And thank you to our institutional supporters and partners, which include:

  • New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
  • Freshkills Park
  • Institute for Urban Design
  • Zayed University
  • The Horne Family Foundation

  • Renewable energy can be ugly. But it doesn’t have to be.

    There has been a resurgence of support in the press for nimbyism lately, especially in the UK. There and elsewhere, the idea of the landscape—both ruggedly natural and idyllically agricultural—holds great significance to the culture and to the history and identity of place. Even when relegated to the urban core for any length of time, one can always reflect on the splendor of nature, and take some solace in knowing that those places are out there at that moment, unspoiled.

    A recent op-ed article in the New York Times by Roger Cohen, Britain Goes Nimby, is a nice summary of the state of affairs for renewable energy projects in the UK.

    With renewable sources like wind and solar accounting for just 3.3 percent of energy consumption in 2010, Britain is a long way from its target — mandated by the European Union — of 15 percent by 2020.

    In theory, green-organic Brits get all this. The Cardiff survey found that 81 percent of people are concerned that Britain will become too dependent on imported energy. Even if fewer people now say there are risks to Britain from climate change — 66 percent today against 77 percent in 2005 (an economic crisis does focus the mind on the present) — they support using a mix of energy sources (74 percent), and 82 percent claim they would “probably or definitely vote in favor of building new wind farms in Britain,” against 41 percent for nuclear power stations.

    But that’s before nimbyism kicks in. We live in a nimbyfying world: idealism abounds, propelled by planet shrinkage, but so does ego, inflated by solipsistic online universes. Where they converge is in hypocrisy and humbug.

    The thing that is hinted at but never directly addressed in the article (and in those that it quotes) is that the proposed wind power installations which are objected to are never considered aesthetically, nor are they designed to be site-specific. Instead, they are externally designed utilitarian mechanisms—garish objects distracting from the beauty of the places in which they are proposed. But this need not be the case.

    Angel of the North, by Antony Gormley | Photo- All rights reserved by Sea Pigeon on Flickr: click image for link.

    In fact, one of the articles that the Times piece cites—an article by Alexander Chancellor (When it comes to windfarms, I don’t feel bad about nimbyism) in the Guardian, actually makes reference to Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, a large £1 million sculpture completed in 1998 that initially drew criticism, but is now seen as an iconic landmark for the Northeast of England in which people take great pride. Its extensive 600 tonne foundation was required to resist the force of the wind on the wide wings of the artwork (it makes one wonder tangentially in the context of energy art whether the wings could have instead harnessed that wind power and lessened the moment forces that resolve into the foundation).

    The beauty that is enshrined in museums and galleries, architecture, art and design is widely acknowledged and considered a fit charge on the state. The beauty that is enshrined in nature is not, other than in some farm subsidies, and is perpetually under threat. The Welsh turbines are a reckless tearing up of a carbon reservoir at public expense, pending the development of other forms of power generation. The least those hoping to profit from this vandalism can do is put the related power lines underground.

    The power lines should certainly go underground where this is feasible. Buried conduit is much more protected from weather and from acts of sabotage, and it is arguably the most aesthetically appealing alternative. And the wind generators themselves could be designed for their specific site, thinking outside the box, and providing new tools for sustainable development.

    Another article in the Guardian, by Simon Jenkins, Bravo for nimbyism. What else will keep us from turbines and pylons?, shows how nimbyist arguments, when juxtaposed with talk of subsidies, can very easily segue their way into reasons why we should devote more investment into natural gas projects.

    To wreck the fragile landscape – and seascape – of Britain when the future more probably lies in gas, sun and waves seems idiotic.

    Which leads also to the shift to offshore wind. It is generally acknowledged that utilitarian turbines are less offensive when set against the distant skyline of the sea than when seen marching along mountain ridges. But offshore wind farms are vastly more expensive.

    From Roger Cohen’s piece in the New York Times:

    So, at about twice the price, Britain is now being forced to build most new wind farms offshore. In 2010, onshore installations dropped 38 percent compared with 2009, while offshore ones tripled. All the added cost of that undersea cabling will one day be billed to someone.

    For less than twice the price I’m sure that we can come up with other land-based solutions to harness the power of the wind that can appeal to the aesthetics of the communities near which they are constructed. Perhaps they can even come serve as proud landmarks of each place (much like Gormley’s Angel), specifically designed to merge with and compliment the landscapes into which they are sensitively placed.

    Below are just a few examples of site-specific, wind energy generating public artworks from the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition. Maybe one of these designs is adaptable to northern Britain or anywhere else that finds objection in massive horizontal axis wind turbines. The 2012 design competition for New York City will bring with it many more wind energy designs.

    Windstalk by Atelier dna – click on the image for more information.

    WindNest by Trevor Lee and Clare Olsen – click on the image for more information.

    i Leaf Green by Maria José Zapiain Gonzalez and Rodrigo Segura – click on the image for more information.

    Weather Field by Lateral Office (Toronto) + Paisajes Emergentes (Medellín) – click on the image for more information.

    realities:united (realU) and UeBERSEE

    Description of POWERPLANTS from realU website:

    Powerplants is a land art project for the site of a former power plant in Pasadena, which is being redeveloped as a new expansion for the Pasadena Arts Center, as well as for a planned development park consisting of high-tech businesses and offices. This transformation from an old power plant to what has been named the “Glenarm Innovation Corridor” was in need of an artistic strategy to visually accompany and support the ongoing urban (re-)development over the years to come.

    A singular symbol in just one location quickly revealed itself to be an unfeasible solution here: the grounds are expansive and very eclectic due to their heterogeneous construction. Not so expansive was the low budget for “public art”, which the city set aside for the project’s development. That’s why a modular concept was developed, which could be extended at any time through additional private investments in connection with expected business settlements moving into the Innovation Corridor, thereby adopting and strengthening the area’s artistic (and professional) aura.

    The proposal is a conceptual strategy superimposing new, modular and interconnected structures on the remains of old industry. The structures bridge the gap between industry, nature and information technology. They are a new breed of Powerplants, with slender stalks reaching about 55 feet into the sky, the same height as the famed palm trees of Southern California. Each topped by a cylindrical light tube, they emit soft and pulsating light signals powered by solar energy stored during the day. The metal structure is reminiscent of the site’s industrial history and allows movement via light breezes, swaying gently in the wind like the palm trees. It is, however, strong enough to withstand storms and earthquakes.

    Because of their sculptural qualities, Powerplants are effective as single objects as well as in small or large groups. Connected via a wireless communication network, they are programmed to exchange light impulses with each other, create abstract light configurations or glow in unison. Because they are physically independent from each other and electrically self-sustainable, there is no need for wiring, thereby making it possible to “plant” and “replant” them in any given sequence and arrangement. They can therefore react flexibly to the area’s development, which is set to occur over the next two decades. They can expand, reproduce, or retract piece by piece, or be concentrated in one area. After successfully constructing a prototype Powerplants was put on hold for administrative reasons. The future is uncertain…

    Project Partnership
    Prof. Nick Hafermaas / Art Center College of Design

    Advising Engineers Phase One
    OSD office for structural design

    Advising Engineers Phase Two
    Schlaich Bergermann und Partner Structural Consulting Engineers

    Christoph Wagner
    Jan Edler

    Malte Niedringhaus
    Marie Banâtre
    Robert Ostmann


    The multimedia artist Michael Pendry worked with Siemens AG to create an installation on November 29, 2009 on the one 100 foot tall wind turbine near the Munich Allianz-Arena (by Herzog & de Meuron). Over 9000 Osram LEDs were affixed to the rotor blades of the turbine and choreographed to create patterns in response to the colors of the arena façade illumination.

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    Some nice alternative designs for the BrightSource Energy Ivanpah solar thermal plant in California.

    From the article by Bridgette Meinhold at inhabitat:

    BrightSource is holding a competition to come up with designs for the solar towers and Zurich-based RAFAA Architectue & Design in collaboration with engineering consultant, Schlaich, Bergermann und Partner have submitted two different concepts. While conceptualizing the different options, RAFAA sought to achieve high performances and efficiencies in terms of structural integrity, material usage and sustainability. Option A is a constructed of modular precast concrete or slip-form parts that would be transported and then assembled on site. Inspiration for the design came from light waves wrapped into a helix to form a column with diamond holes cut into the towers for aesthetic and structural purposes.

    This first option seems to answer to a set of parameters that BrightSource was seeking in their request for proposals, however RAFAA feels in the long run, lightweight steel would provide a better solution both economically and sustainably than concrete. Therefore, they also came up with Option B, a square tower with a twist in the middle constructed of prefabricated 40-ft long steel elements. RAFAA proposes that steel is more sustainable in the long run because it would create a smaller construction footprint causing less damage to the environment. The solar tower can always be dismantled and moved to a new location or sold to another company when it is time to upgrade or the material can be recycled at the end of its life whereas concrete cannot. Either way, in the end we’ll have some design-worthy towers supporting the new solar plants in the Mojave.

    news via inhabitat.com and greenprophet.com

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    The following is part of a lecture that we gave for the AIA Middle East CES Course on the topics of Sustainable Design and Regional/Urban Design & Planning.

    In 2008, we designed a solution for an iconic tower for Dubai (as a part of a design competition) that incorporated the technology of the solar power tower, along with passive cooling chimneys, into the artistic expression of the building. The tower powers itself and Za’abeel Park in which it is conceptually situated. Another design for a mixed-use tower, the 10MW Tower integrates three active systems: concentrated solar power, solar updraft, and horizontal axis wind into a building that produces 10x its operational demand load. The idea of an extreme integration of renewable energy infrastructure into the design of buildings offers a way in which architecture can exist for a third humanitarian purpose.

    Architecture has served us firstly to provide shelter and functional space within which we work and reside. Its secondary role has been as an aesthetic amenity to our shared and private space. Architecture’s public face has a very important role to play, with every edifice signifying its purpose and declaring its personality, its regard for the public realm, and its relationship to human activities. Some buildings accomplish this function in very serious ways, both classical and modern; others with a sense of irony, but even those that prefer to ignore this role end up making some of the loudest statments.

    What the technological revolution in renewable energy offers architecture is yet a third purpose which is closely aligned with the first two. While conventional power generation facilities that use coal, natural gas, petroleum, or uranium as their fuel source require large areas of land far removed from population centers, the newer forms of electrical generation do not pollute in their operation and so can be brought back into our urban centers and residential suburbs.

    With this shift already occurring in small and medium scale installations, the question is: can new buildings actively participate in the energy generation infrastructure of our cities by producing more power than that which is consumed by their own operation? In essence, the idea of the separate power plant goes away and instead the function is integrated into the commercial and residential constructed environment in a way that shares cost, distributes generation, and allows buildings to pay back their own embodied carbon footprints with the clean energy they provide to the existing city around them.

    It is interesting to note tangentially here that early in the age of public electrical power utilities (before transformers were able to produce high enough voltage for efficient long distance transmission) fossil-fuel powered generation facilities were by necessity located within urban centers. And in this context, the responsibility towards aesthetic amenity was heeded well.

    Power plants were designed to fit within the architectural languages of the day, and in fact, their programmatic requirements contributed greatly to the evolution of the art with influence on early modern architects such as Otto Wagner, Tony Garnier, Peter Behrens, and later on, Futurism (via Antonio Sant’Elia) and the Bauhaus.

    As more and more energy generation infrastructure was able to leave the city behind, it lost its relationship to architecture, especially with regard to that second humanitarian purpose of architecture that we mentioned: public amenity. It became pure utility—something to drive quickly by and hazardous to public health.

    The notable exceptions in the latter half of the 20th century have been in cases in which the facilities remain in more urban settings, such as integrated within university campuses, or substation enclosures within the city.

    This almost complete divorce of architecture and art from utilitarian power generation infrastructure has in many ways continued into the present as it pertains to utility-scale renewable energy production. In some cases, this has led to push-back within communities that find themselves in close proximity to large-scale utilitarian solar and wind installations.

    This is less the case with smaller-scale generation, which allows for photovoltaics and small-scale wind applications to be integrated into the building design. BIPV innovation especially has made it possible for designers to provide a percentage of on-site renewable electricity, and in some cases, with the necessary assistance of good passive energy conservation design, provide 100% or more of the operational power requirements, resulting in net-zero buildings and developments.

    But, as we know, the construction of buildings can consume up to 100 times the energy that the building consumes over the course of one year of operation. What the integration of larger-scale renewable energy systems makes possible is a more true zero-impact status (or what you can differentiate by calling ‘positive impact’) that takes into account all of the energy required to construct, operate, and eventually decommission the facility. Depending on the size of the building, its durability and adaptability, and its initial ecological footprint, the energy generation should be between 3x and 10x the operational use in order to provide a carbon payback period between 15 and 30 years. It will be necessary to establish an interdisciplinary approach to urban planning at the city level that provides incentives for developers to make this type of investment in infrastructural public largesse. But if the proper public policies, smart grids, and feed-in-tariffs are in place, it may be possible that these buildings could become a good return on investment.

    There are many who are thinking along these lines, searching for ways of treating renewable energy technology as a design element that can work seamlessly with architectural expression. For the most part, these ideas have been incompatible with existing markets and incentive structures. It is a significant enough investment to construct a building by conventional standards to satisfy the programmatic requirements and smooth operations of the first use. And the cost of energy is relatively inexpensive, which provides disincentive to the proactive adoption of this type of hybrid building.

    It occurred to us in the autumn of 2008 that there may be an easier adoption of aesthetics with larger-scale energy infrastructure if it were to occur within the genre of public art. Public art serves many purposes. It teaches, inspires, adds pleasure and interest to our days. It generates tourism and increased economic development. It gives us pause to question our assumptions about place, space, materials, and the meaning of things, and it generally strengthens our communities in ways that are innumerable and defy explanation. Can public art do these things and more? There are many examples of crossover between public art and objects of utility.

    It is sometimes difficult to draw a clear distinction between landscape architecture and land art (Betsy Damon’s The Living Water Garden in Chengdu, China is a good example: the art-park serves as a bio-filtration water purification system for the river). Sometimes there is a strained distinction between public art and architecture (consider Bernard Tschumi´s Follies in Parc de la Villette Paris, for example). So then what about between public art and energy generation infrastructure?

    Many traditional works of land art, such as those by Robert Smithson and Richard Long, use only natural materials; but there are others, such as those by Water DeMaria, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Cristo & Jeanne-Claude to name a few, that incorporate synthetic materials (metals, fabrics, concrete) into the works. So, inspired by our love for land art and by the greater proliferation of the integration of renewable energy on-site power generation systems into the eco-millennial architecture of the past decade, we set out to discover how large-scale works of public art could be used as power plants for cities.

    We immediately brainstormed an international design competition. For while we could find some great examples of public artworks that powered themselves with solar panels, there did not seem to be sufficient extrapolation towards a greater fusion between art and this particular type of utility or infrastructure art.

    As a part of the Land Art Generator Initiative, we put together an online catalogue of renewable energy generation technologies that we hope can be a source of inspiration to designers who participate in designing land art generators, or who are interested in applications in other contexts. It is important to note is that there is a lot more out there than what we see in the everyday. In fact there are more than 50 different proven methods of harnessing the power of nature in sustainable ways. Some of the more interesting examples that may be applicable as a medium for public art installations are the organic thin films which are flexible and offer interesting hues and textures, piezoelectric generators that capture vibration energy, and concentrated photovoltaics, which allow for interesting play with light. But the possibilities are endless and new designs are coming into the market all the time that can be artistically integrated into large, conceptual installations.

    In early 2009, we came up with a few ideas of our own utility-scale energy generating artworks at the start of our planning process in order to explain what it was that we were looking for. One of these provisional concepts incorporated a modification of concentrated photovoltaics, another used artfully placed wave buoys. At the same time we formally established the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) identity and launched the competition on January 15, 2010 at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

    The design brief was fairly simple—the artwork was to capture energy from nature, cleanly convert it into electricity, and transform and transmit the electrical power to a grid connection point to be supplied by the city. Consideration should be made for the safety of the viewing public and for the educational activities that may occur on site. We asked that the design be constructible (rather than theoretical) and that it respect that natural ecosystem of the design sites. We encouraged interdisciplinary collaborations between artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers and scientists.

    The jury that we put together was as interdisciplinary as the teams that participated, with top professionals from the worlds of art, science, architecture, urban planning, sustainability, and utility. From the UAE, we were very lucky to have Khalil Adulwahid and Omran Alowais. We also were fortunate to have Lukas Sokol with Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, Reuben Andrews with DEWA, and Georgeta Vidican from Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

    We gave artists the choice between three very large urban sites: one in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi. The sites were theoretical but they were chosen because they all fit the following three criteria: 1. they are not slated for development in either of the city’s long-term urban plans, 2. they combine the perfect mix of adjacency to natural beauty and proximity to urban areas, and 3. they have ample access to renewable energy resources. We chose sites that would inspire the minds of the design teams, as well as the residents, local stakeholders, and decision-makers of both cities. What is wonderful about the site-specific nature of the project is that the responses to the shifting parameters will yield incredibly diverse results. It is our intention to continue holding the LAGI competition biennially for different locations around the world, and to pursue the construction of the designs in the growing portfolio for cities everywhere. Many of the designs may be adaptable to sites other than the ones that they were originally designed for. We see that many of the works submitted to the 2010 competition are modular or could otherwise be scaled up or down.

    Art has a great power to stimulate collective thought and inspire the future, and the context of the LAGI project is somewhat of a perfect storm for harnessing that power to help address some of contemporary society’s most pressing issues. LAGI draws on the rich and continuing history of eco-art, land art, environmental art, art as social practice, new media and tactical media art; and at the same time it benefits from the recent technological breakthroughs in renewable energy science and systems integration that have allowed for the potential of using these new materials as part of the media for the creation of public art. The interdisciplinary process also provides an interesting path to innovation as artists work with scientists on concepts that utilize biomimicry and various creative methods.

    The question that we are asking regarding the aesthetics of renewable energy infrastructure could not be timelier, given the push-back that we have seen on renewable energy installations. Every day there seems to be a new story about people disapproving of solar or wind installations in their communities. It’s not that they don’t care about the environment; in many cases the people opposing the installations are self-avowed environmentalists. To some people, the addition of turbines to the skyline that they can see from their porch is a form of visual pollution.

    In response to the proposition that renewable energy can be beautiful, the results of the 2010 competition in the UAE have resoundingly proven that this is true with hundreds of innovative artworks submitted from 40 countries. The response has been overwhelmingly positive both here in Dubai/Abu Dhabi, and internationally.

    By approaching clean energy generation in this way, The Land Art Generator Initiative will have the effect of broadening the audience that will become engaged in the long-term solution and will help to accelerate public acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure that is integrated organically into the fabric of our social and environmental ecologies.

    We’re now in the planning stage of the 2012 competition which will take place for a design site within Freshkills Park in Staten Island, New York City. We’ve partnered with New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation on the project and we are certain that it will be an exciting challenge to artist teams—the interest so far has been very positive since our soft announcement. Freshkills Park offers an interesting and inspirational site. Reading from the official description from Parks & Recreation:

    “At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park will be almost three times the size of Central Park and the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years. The transformation of what was formerly the world’s largest landfill into a productive and beautiful cultural destination will make the park a symbol of renewal and an expression of how our society can restore balance to its landscape. In addition to providing a wide range of recreational opportunities, including many uncommon in the city, the park’s design, ecological restoration and cultural and educational programming will emphasize environmental sustainability and a renewed public concern for our human impact on the earth.”

    With the generosity of the Freshkills Park administration, we have had the opportunity to visit the site twice and it is really beautiful with captivating views towards the Manhattan skyline.

    The complete design brief will be released in January of 2012.

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    Aidan Dwyer’s Fibonacci Solar Geometry

    Aidan Dwyer, a 13 year old Long Island resident, has made some big news this week with his astute observations and experiments on solar power efficiency. While spending time in the woods, Aidan noticed that the trees branch out in a pattern that, when simplified, resembles a Fibonacci series spiral. Familiar with the concept of biomimetics in design, he wondered if the geometry that the trees have evolved for maximizing the efficiency of their solar reception might be applicable to solar efficiency of photovoltaic panels.

    His study, which showed an increase in efficiency with the biomemetic design over a flat geometry, has earned him a provisional US patent according to the articles.

    According to TreeHugger:

    Summing up his research and imagining the possibilities, Aidan wrote: “The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don’t have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don’t hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.”

    We hope that Aidan will be interested in applying his ideas to the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for New York City!

    story and images via Northport Patch, TreeHugger, and Inhabitat

    Update 1: We stumbled upon this interesting post from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Surrey, UK. There are some links there to some great diagrams which give further evidence to this principle.

    Update 2: Atlantic Wire has posted about a debunking of the claims in the media’s reporting on the project. It does rightly point out the sometimes less-than-critical nature of reporting on such things, but we don’t really see the harm in sensationalizing to some extent if it grabs attention and gets people thinking about the subject. In terms of the practical application of Fibonacci series placement of panels, it still may be true that if they are all optimally aligned to the sun there may be some benefit (think of the sunflower diagram with the entire thing pointed at 45 degrees and south, or the entire thing tracking the sun’s movement).

    Rein Triefeldt’s Solar Tree Foundation

    The story reminds of Rein Triefeldt‘s Solar Tree Foundation project, which we learned about through Solar Artworks.

    Rein Triefeld is bringing science education to people through his kinetic art. He has been using solar power to bring motion to his kinetic artworks since at least 2002.

    And from a bLAGI post in 2009, which was about SMIT‘s Solar Ivy:

    I have long thought about how beautiful an orchard of 100 (10×10) trees with tiny PV leaves would be. The most beautiful place I can imagine to sit and contemplate is on the grass in the middle of an orchard. The sun makes such a beautiful tapestry of shadow on the ground and the multi-point perspective that the grid of trees constructs is ever-changing as you walk within. My personal favorite is an olive tree orchard with its tiny silvery leaves. Just imagine sitting in the midst of all that beauty while knowing that it is generating electricity. I figure an orchard that size would be enough to run more than a dozen homes. The above sketch is from an olive orchard on the Northern outskirts of Florence.

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    Solar 2

    It was announced earlier this week that Solar One has received $1.25 million from New York City Council towards the construction of the Solar 2 facility at 23rd Street and East River in New York City, bringing the project very close to being able to break ground. This follows two grants this past spring from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) and the J.C. Kellogg Foundation.

    Designed by Kiss+Cathcart Architects, Solar 2 will be a LEED Platinum, net-zero energy building and will serve as an educational showcase of sustainable design and renewable energy technology. All of the electricity will come from a 90 KW peak capacity solar canopy that will generate nearly 100 megawatt-hours per year, an amount equal to about $15,000 per year at 14.5 cents per KWh. The solar array is designed to be easily upgraded as new technology comes on line.

    Surrounding the building will be a green wall, providing natural shade in the summer and habitat for birds and insects. The building will be constructed with a very high percentage of recycled and rapidly renewable materials. Visitors will be able to see and learn about the advanced geothermal heat-exchange HVAC equipment. Natural daylight and ventilation, and other passive design strategies will keep base energy loads to a minimum.

    Other features in Solar 2 (from the Solar One website):

    • Green Roof will reduce heating and cooling loads on the building; filtering 
carbon dioxide and other pollutants out of the air; combating the urban heat effect, which makes cities measurably hotter than surrounding areas; and 
reducing storm water runoff, helping to alleviate the load on New York City’s wastewater management system and thereby preventing the flow of raw 
sewage into our natural waterways.
    • Natural Daylight Strategies include the building’s position, a north light 
skylight, glare reduction windows that allow light and solar heat gain to 
save energy. Windows include hopper windows, which induce outside air and are managed by systems and/or staff.
    • Energy Recovery Ventilation will be wind induced and stack driven.
    • Roof Monitors strategically placed will draw stack-induced ventilation air from the building due to the height of the spaces.
    • Rainwater Collection will provide all non-potable water, conserving the 
municipal water supply.
    • Building Management System will be a fully automated direct digital control system that will reduce energy costs.
    • Low Flush Toilets/Waterless Urinals will dramatically cut water consumption.
    • Recycled and Renewable Materials will be used in the building structure and interior furnishings.
    • Vegetative Green Screen is aesthetically pleasing and will allow the building to become part of the natural environment. It will provide natural shading and filtered sunlight saving energy keeping the building cool in Summer and allowing sunlight to warm the building in Winter. It also absorbs CO2 and adds to the biodiversity of the area with birds and butterflies.
    • Eco-Basement has cutaways and transparent walls, which will allow visitors 
to experience and visualize an ecologically sound built environment and provide a unique, rare glimpse into the HVAC and geo-exchange systems. Visitors can see how interactive systems, planning and design can save energy and reduce carbon footprint.
    • Multi-Purpose Indoor and Outdoor Classrooms will provide interactive 
learning environments for visitors of all ages.
    • Green Theater and Solar-Powered Stage is unique in New York City and serves as an entertainment space that also informs visitors about alternative energy. A multi-use space, the stage also will be used as an outdoor seating area where the East River and Park views can be enjoyed.
    • Eco-Apartment/Office will present visitors with energy saving and sustainable products, equipment and additional resources, demonstrating how households and offices can have a positive impact on the environment.
    • Wetlands Exhibit will accentuate SOLAR 2’s unique location on the East River in Stuyvesant Cove Park.
    • Eco-Café will provide natural, fair trade, locally grown food served on recycled and sustainable place settings. It will operate seasonally on the roof of the building providing dramatic views of the East River eyond.

    Solar 2 Brochure (PDF)

    via inhabitat

    Chen Liao Hsun

    Wind Cube is a modular wind power system designed by Chen Liao-Hsun for household use. Designboom received the project via their ‘DIY submissions’ feature, where they welcome their readers to submit their own work for publication.

    The Wind Cube units, 100-watt micro-wind turbine generators can be pulled out to activate the system when there is a gentle breeze, and then retracted in heavy winds or bad weather to avoid possible damage. Individual units are designed to fit together in a honeycomb structure and can thus be tiled to fit entire exterior walls and roofs. Chen Liao-Hsun says the concept is, “to use three-dimensional wind fields to make up for the insufficiency of two-dimensional ones.” he estimates that each Wind Cube can generate about 21.6 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, approximately 1/15 the household usage of a family of four.

    There also exists the possibility for Wind Cube to be used in the honeycomb pattern structure as a free-standing fence, perhaps with overlapping honeycombs in parallel to provide structural stability. While an idea at the moment, there seems to be a lot of potential for this type of application. The pattern of wind movement around buildings may provide a great deal of energy that this type of micro-turbine would be able to harvest.

    Chen Liao Hsun

    Chen Liao Hsun

    via designboom and inhabitat


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