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The Ocean Still: Lagrimas de Santa Monica, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Nuith Morales, Stephanie Hsia, Courtney A. Goode, Michelle Arevalos Franco, and Helen E. Kongsgaard
Artist Location: Boston, USA
Energy Technologies: Solar Distillation
Annual Capacity: 9 million liters of drinking water

The twin springs that inspired Santa Monica’s name were fabled to be the tears of a saint. At a time of growing thirst in California, The Ocean Still augments this sacred source of water by transforming seawater into fresh water, using only the energy of the sun. A large, transparent enclosure—a solar still perched on the old breakwater—makes a surface for collecting the saint’s pure tears once again. This simple, pre-modern technology concentrates sunlight, distills saltwater, and condenses fresh water on a glass shell. The entire breakwater structure, including the passive solar still and its complex of pools, celebrates the many forms of water as well as the residue of desalination.

Fusing urban needs and pleasure, the expanded breakwater complex recalls the history of the Santa Monica Pier as municipal sewage utility and its vital role in urban metabolism. Now, as before, the processes that make city life possible are tied to entertainment and destination—water production as spectacle.

Inside the “still” solar radiant heat is absorbed and concentrated. The seawater evaporates. As it condenses on the glass shell, a collection channel diverts the pure distillate into a cistern and to the pier. The angled glass walls face due south, absorbing maximum solar heat and exploiting the flow of prevailing westerly and southwesterly winds.

The concentrated saline brine that results from desalination exits from a low point into the “brine pool”—a long, deep swimming pool that induces the body to float. Swimmers churn the brine water with their movements, maintaining the water at a consistent density.

When the brine waters approach the pool’s capacity they flow onto the “mixing beach.” Here, short walls allow for waves to crash and stir the concentrate—brine mixing with seawater. This slow reclamation of diluted brine back to the Pacific Ocean prevents the dead zones associated with industrial desalination. The shallow slope of sand and gravel at the “mixing beach” creates a protected habitat for marine fauna, and an idyllic floating coast for California sunbathers.

The Ocean Still encourages hope in simple technologies that will not readily become obsolete. Drought and thirst cannot be easily solved at the push of a button. Thoughtful interventions in our lives and landscapes, beyond providing solutions, have the capacity to engage the desires and delights of the senses.

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Cnidaria Halitus a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: John Eric Chung, Pablo La Roche, Danxi Zou, Jingyan Zhang, Tianyi Deng (CallisonRTKL)
Artist Location: Los Angeles, USA
Energy Technologies: tidal turbines (100% of energy used to pump water for distillation)
Water Harvesting Technologies: solar distillation with Fresnel lens
Annual Capacity: 220 million liters of drinking water

Expressing the mystery and beauty of ocean life, Cnidaria Halitus harnesses the natural forces of the sun and the tides to produce 600,000 liters of potable water each day for the City of Santa Monica. California’s buildings are on their way to becoming net zero energy, yet there is much to be done to achieve the same level of water conservation and generation that we have achieved with energy.

Cnidaria Halitus begins its water generation process by collecting and filtering water from the ocean through a centralized system of pipes that take it to the interior of each of the boilers located at the focal point of a Fresnel lens. To maximize heat collection, the axis of the Fresnel lenses and the collectors consistently track the sun in its daily and monthly trajectory across the sky.

The sun’s heat is concentrated onto the boilers, which evaporate the seawater.

The vapor condenses inside the external membrane, an ultra-lightweight transparent fabric that expands with the water vapor, further increasing the surface collection area and allowing maximum solar radiation on the boiler. The expansion and contraction of the external membrane will give the artwork a life-like expression.

The breakwater is used to channel the currents and to concentrate them in slits, where the turbines are located, harnessing the flowing kinetic energy of the tides to generate electricity. This electricity is used to pump the water up to the boilers and to continue the evaporation process during the night.

Cnidaria Halitus provides a visible solution to the problem of water scarcity, creating awareness while providing carbon free potable water from the ocean to the city.

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Aurora

Aurora a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Daniel Martin de los Rios and Fran Vilar Navarro (Pistach Office)
Artist Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Energy Technologies: tidal turbine (similar to Open-Centre Turbine by OpenHydro™), SALt™ (Sustainable Alternative Lighting)
Water Harvesting Technologies: solar distillation (brine waste powers site lighting)
Annual Capacity: 30,000 MWh and 100 million liters of drinking water

Aurora gifts visitors a dreamlike and immersive experience of walking surrounded in a cloud with just the noise of the waves and the wind. The artworks makes palpable the ineffable, reachable the limitless, and measurable the invisible. It is a rich public space where multiple social and cultural activities can take place.

The wooden floor—an extension of the existing pier—represents stability. The cloud—coated with thermochromic paint—represents lightness and transparency. It is set up in elevation so as not to obscure the view from the beach to the horizon. Above the horizon line is a cloud that changes its shape, size, and appearance with the direction of the wind and temperature, causing boundaries to completely blur. The synesthetic impact of the artwork cannot be adequately captured with photography or film. It can only be experienced directly on location. It is formless, massless, dimensionless, and weightless. It speaks to the color of the sky, the reflection of the ocean, and the emotions of the visitors.

Aurora provides clean electricity with a tidal turbine, and drinkable water with solar distillation within the cloud. It is a hybrid system prefabricated in boxes that are set into the existing breakwater. Every element works together in a closed loop. The free flow underwater turbine system harnesses the ocean as a predictable and sustainable power source. The system transfers kinetic energy to electricity while minimizing visual impact. At the point of highest pressure is included an intake pipe to draw water up to the solar distillation process.

Following the distillation, drinking water is channeled for collection, while the brine goes to power lamps that use salt to generate electricity. The prefabricated boxes include the pillars that support the cloud along with the distillation tray and other integrated systems. The cloud works as a container of heat and water. The greenhouse effect creates a microclimate in which water evaporates and then condenses on the inside surface of the cloud skin. The Venturi effect drives the process by which water is conveyed to and from the distillation chamber.

The circle is complete, from the ocean to the sky, from the heaviness of the rock to the lightness of the air. The system is integrated as a modular, simple, and self-sufficient structure in which aesthetics, concept, energy production, and social aspects come together.

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The Clear Orb, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Jaesik Lim, Ahyoung Lee, Jaeyeol Kim, Taegu Lim (Heerim Architects & Planners)
Artist Location: Seoul, South Korea
Energy Technologies: transparent luminescent solar concentrators, oscillating water column (OWC) wave energy converter
Water Harvesting Technologies: solar distillation
Annual Capacity: 3,820 MWh and 2.2 million liters of drinking water

Walking on the Santa Monica beach, The Clear Orb appears to float upon the surface of the ocean water. The colors of the sky are refracted through the translucent glass upper section, while the lower hemisphere’s reflective, mirror-like surface glitters with the sunlight playing on the ocean waves.

The installation is accessible from the Santa Monica Pier by the beach boardwalk. Walking towards it, visitors gradually recognize that the pathway slopes gently below the surface of the water. The walk is an escape from our ordinary routine and the crowed city. The outside walls of this “contemplation walk” are themselves a wave power generator installed along the existing breakwater. The inside walls along the pathway are filled with the list of extinct animals, offering an opportunity to contemplate how humans might better co-exist with nature.

At the end of the pathway, visitors reach an open square just in front of the Orb. The square located below the ocean surface creates the feeling of visual pleasure and sharp contrast of light.

The Clear Orb is a glass sphere approximately 40 meters in diameter. The surface is made up of transparent luminescent solar concentrators. These solar cells supply the power to circulate water into the Orb.

The inner space of the Orb is a solar still that produces fresh water from seawater through evaporation and condensation. Desalinated water produced within the Orb pours down through the step fountain supporting it from beneath—an artful interpretation of the power of light and water to give life.

The oscillating water column wave power plant runs along the 300-meter sea-facing edge of the “contemplation walk,” and provides additional energy to the solar distillation pumps and the electrical grid of the city.


Diagram of the Oscillating Water Column. For more information, see this page.

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