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May 2012

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The Time Is Now: Public Art of the Sustainable City, is now available for purchase online at Kinokuniya Book World.

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“The final beauty of this initiative is that we now can explore the feasibility of implementing all of the leading submissions—creating a link between a future vision and today’s reality.” DR. SULTAN AL JABER, CEO OF MASDAR

LAGI Benefits to Cities

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LAGI Benefits to Cities
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It shows how cities and institutions can benefit from the economic efficiencies of combining public art and renewable energy infrastructure.

When considering the capital costs of implementing utility-scale renewable energy artwork, the full spectrum of return on the investment should be considered.

This includes:

  • City Beautification: all of the traditional benefits of public art.
  • Education: artworks provide places for citizens to learn about sustainable systems and to see renewable energy in action. The Land Art Generator Initiative and Society for Cultural Exchange are available to provide workshops and educational programs in your city.
  • Healthy Environment: CO2 emissions reduction results from the artwork construction.
  • Healthy Communities: people coming together to support sustainable development.
  • Economic Development: land art generators bring positive attention to the city.
  • Innovation: interdisciplinary collaboration drives technological creativity.
  • Electrical Generation: land art generators have the potential to power thousands of homes with clean and renewable energy.


The Land Art Generator Initiative addresses public art within the urban fabric of the sustainable city. The objective is to advance the successful implementation of sustainable urban design solutions by integrating art and interdisciplinary creative processes into the conception of renewable energy infrastructure. The project can be subdivided into four main areas of focus:

  • LAGI design competition and associated events
  • Educational materials
  • Community outreach (lectures, workshops, and more)
  • Construction of aesthetic renewable energy infrastructure for cities and institutions

A primary goal of LAGI is to design and construct a series of large-scale site-specific installations that combine art with utility-scale clean energy generation. The artworks utilize the latest in renewable energy science and innovate the application of new technologies.

Land Art Generator public artworks pay back both their carbon footprint and their installation cost over time, making them the perfect investment in our future.

The details of ROI from electricity generation will vary greatly depending on the nature of the design that is commissioned or selected from an open design competition process.

In addition to the sale of kilowatt-hours of electricity from these artworks, the return on investment should also consider the value that these artworks give to the community as economic development engines, centers of education and community awareness on issues of ecology, and their value as objects of city beautification.

When these additional factors are taken into consideration, these artworks could more accurately be seen as returning on their investment within the first year after their construction.

The capacity of public artwork (especially large-scale and high-profile works) to increase economic activity is well-documented. According to the NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Waterfalls by Olafur Eliasson, cost $15.5 million to install (privately funded) and brought an estimated $53 million in incremental spending from visitors who came to see the installation over the nearly four months that it was in operation. That’s an extra $483,000 per day to Manhattan businesses as a direct result of a public art installation.

Imagine a permanent work of art of a similar scale and with similar economic stimulus benefit.

And now imagine that this work of art educates hundreds of visitors every day about the technology that it employs, while contributing clean energy to the electrical grid (equivalent to the energy consumed by 1,000 homes). Now that is something to celebrate!


We’re very proud to announce that The Time Is Now: Public Art of the Sustainable City, is now available.

The book is beautifully designed by Page One Publishing. It includes 51 submissions to the 2010 edition of the LAGI design competition, as well as fascinating essays written by Beth Carruthers, Michiel Van Raaij, and Reuben Andrews (with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority). It also includes a forward essay by LAGI and an opening statement by Masdar.

“And now the final beauty of this initiative is that we can explore the feasibility of implementing all the leading submissions—again creating a link between a future vision and today’s reality”

-Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar

It is now available directly from the publisher and in select retail outlets.

Click HERE for information about how to purchase your copy. Or you can now also purchase directly online through Kinokuniya Book World.

From the publisher’s description:

In 2010, the Land Art Generator Initiative held its first international design competition to explore the various facets of renewable energy’s beauty. Artists, architects, engineers and scientists from around the world worked together to design power plants that would function not only as infrastructure for clean energy production, but also as conceptually powerful works of art for the United Arab Emirates. This book presents the best of the entries, the winners of which were chosen by an international jury. The aim is to actualise public art that fulfills its societal role while pushing the boundaries of technology—progress at peace with the natural world.

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We want to forward to you this great opportunity from Terreform ONE:

One Prize

BLIGHT to MIGHT: Open International Design Competition for Transforming Cities with Innovation

ONE Prize 2012 is a call to put design in the service of disenfranchised communities, to reinvigorate deindustrialized and depressed urban areas, and to repurpose spaces for economic growth and job creation. Situated in the context of a struggling U.S. economy and the tension of stagnant unemployment, ONE Prize 2012 aims to explore the socially, economically, and ecologically regenerative possibilities of urban transformation and design. The competition is powered by the idea that social, ecological, and economic struggles can simultaneously be addressed through collaborative action and innovative planning.

The ONE Prize seeks architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, artists, students and individuals of all backgrounds:

  • Can we rework the skeletons of 20th century manufacturing for 21st century innovation?
  • Can former plants in Detroit become greenhouses, schools, theaters?
  • Can mill towns be revamped as digital fabrication hubs?
  • Can vacant parking lots become farms or parks?
  • Can abandoned strip malls be reinvented?
  • Can we reboot the American economy?

For more information on ONE Prize 2012: Blight to Might, this year’s competition jury and to submit your ideas visit: www.oneprize.org.

A company called SEFE says that it will soon be able to generate a limitless supply of renewable energy by converting static electricity from the atmosphere into direct current.

Ever since Benjamin Franklin and his kite, we have been aware of the electrical power that is statically and consistently present in great magnitude between the negatively charged earth and the positively charged atmosphere.

This Wikipedia entry has a lot more information on where this energy comes from.

Over the years (famously beginning with Nikola Tesla) there have been many attempts at harnessing this latent energy for practical use.

But no one has been able to harness it in a practical way…until now perhaps? From the (nicely designed and informative) SEFE website:

SEFE has developed a proprietary technology which aims to harvest the constant and powerful static electricity that is continually formed in the earth’s atmosphere. Through a series of patented and patent-pending devices, SEFE’s Harmony system is designed to draw the static electricity in direct current form from the atmosphere, converting it to alternating current for immediate power consumption. And, the system can reconvert the alternating current back into direct current form for longer-term storage in banks of batteries. The system’s design employs an airborne carrier, which can be a high-altitude weather balloon or blimp, to send a conductive cable into the atmosphere, where it is suspended and tethered in constant contact with a ground unit. Attached to the conductive cable is a “black box” which converts the naturally occurring electricity into usable form. The electricity is sent down the conductive cable to a power generator, which, in turn, can send the power to an existing electric company’s infrastructure and grid for commercial and residential consumption. This platform generator also can convert the electricity for longer-term storage.

SEFE’s flagship product is called the Harmony III and it incorporates an electrostatic motor that operates as a generator when it is supplied with a high voltage/low current power source, such as that which is in abundant existence in the atmosphere. So far SEFE has received four patents for its system and has more pending approval.

One of the questions in their online FAQ pertains to the aesthetics of the system:

Q: Wind farms take up the entire countryside and blot out the landscape. Wouldn’t that be true of balloons in the sky?

A: In a word, no. To maximize electricity collection, the SEFE system hoists the airborne device hundreds of feet into the atmosphere, well out of typical line of sight. Also, since each unit can generate an abundance of electricity, there are less units needed in collaboration with each other. So, fewer units dot the landscape. By contrast, solar or wind systems need a significant amount of space; hence, these “farms” take up real estate in the production of electricity. Instead, we harvest electricity, right from the source.

You may not be able to see the collection devices, but it would make an interesting study to take a look at the artistic possibilities for the ground-based equipment and the tethering systems.

The name SEFE derives from the meteorological phenomenon called St. Elmo’s Fire, where coronal discharge from a grounded object causes light to form at the end of sharp corners of that object. It is most often witnessed emanating from ship’s masts during thunderstorms when atmospheric voltage is very high.

It sounds too good to be true, but after looking through the copious amount of information on their website, we are very optimistic that SEFE is really on to something with this. They are a publicly traded company and their stock price has been rising steadily since March, with some extreme activity in the past couple of weeks.

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