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Solar Updraft

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Michal Gdak and Ewelina Gorczynska
Designed for Site #2 in Abu Dhabi, between Saadiyat Island and Yas Island.

Design Submission for the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative Design Competition

Artist’s descriptive text:
The history of cities is mostly hidden in the ground. Ruins, foundations of destroyed buildings, or personal belongings of citizens are waiting through centuries to be discovered by archaeologists. In the case of Abu Dhabi, the sand is the witness to the rising of the new city.

The City Trace Generator is the appliance which provides the footprint of the Abu Dhabi and Dubai combined skylines to the land. On the 1.5 km strip is imprinted the form of the horizon on the earth.

The stark beauty of the site and its location along the road make it perfectly suited to the artwork and serve to underline the concept of the movable monument. The site provides the most important medium of the work, the sand.

The energy is generated by a solar updraft system. A 1.5 km strip of glass collector along both sides of the “trace” line stores the solar energy by super heating the air. The hot air rises up a tube chimney inside the monumental ring to toward cooler and less dense air above. This natural system of air circulation drives the turbines. The tube chimneys are located on the both sides of the City Trace Generator. The tubes are connected with the collector structure by the rails, which also support the 150 m high ring.

low-res version PDF of submitted boards


Towers of Light

Carpenter / Lowings Architecture and Design
Luke Lowings, Iljana Eggert, Rudi Bergermann
Designed for Site #2 in Abu Dhabi, between Saadiyat Island and Yas Island.

Design Submission for the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative Design Competition

Artist’s descriptive text:
Spaces are crafted from a clean and elegant technology, and combined into a potent experience of light, shadow, colour and sound. The intention is to connect the individual to the immense scale of the landscape and the process of energy production; to start to reconcile technology, ecology and culture.

The artwork is a complex sequence of linked events, that can be appreciated individually or in concert:

Firstly, the towers are seen from a great distance as three poised, fluid forms in light, reminiscent of columns of flowing water;

Secondly, the collector surfaces are seen as tilted prismatic planes of glass from the road during the day, or etched with delicate lines of retro-reflected light from cars against the night’s darkness;

Thirdly, for the engaged visitor slowly pacing out the immense dimensions of the land under the diaphanous membrane of glass, the work is manifested as projected and reflected lines of coloured light and patterns of shadow;

Fourthly, directly under the tower, the intense sound of rushing air, with the flickering, twisting light, creates a climactic experience that intensifies the changes that occur in the natural light over the course of the day and through the year.

The technology we propose to use is simple, requiring little maintenance and no energy in use, to leave the site as untouched as possible. The totality is site-specific: the process and artwork are sensitive to the land, climate and culture in which they are built.

Energy from the sun is clean and safe: we can occupy and learn from the spaces that create it.

The Artwork/Generator:
The collectors are arrayed toward the western part of the site, aligned with the slight curve of the road, to leave the eastern end empty. The latter is the highest part of the site. Visitors will arrive by boat or by car, approaching from the east where a floating jetty is placed at the end of the bridge. A simple informal path leads up to a small triangular shade structure at the top of the rise, commanding views of the sea and capturing breezes. This structure serves as an orientation point and viewing platform with toilet facilities and seating. From there a straight path leads toward the first tower, under the edge of the solar collector and onto a long shallow ramp into the earth.

The portion of the glass collector over the ramp is covered with a semi-opaque pattern to form a shaded canopy. The air under the collector gets gradually hotter toward the tower so, as the ramp descends, a second layer of glass at ground level separates the lower half of the ramp from the heated air in the collector above, and carries a second pattern that, with the first, forms soft hexagonal shadow patterns which blur and coalesce, dappling the light. Cooled air is drawn from shaded tubes underground through the pedestrian space. Strips of coated glass on the collector split the sunlight into its component colours, transmitting and reflecting blue and gold bars of light onto the landscape, leading the eye toward the tower.

Almost under the tower the shadows deepen again, as the passage constricts before the visitor enters a simple hexagonal room containing a raised triangular reflecting pool. Above a clear glass ceiling, the interior of the tower rises vertiginously to the sky: bars of bright light loop and float across undulating petal-like surfaces, toward the intense blue sky at the centre. The sound of the turbines spinning, the rushing of the air, the sense of heat above, and the space rising one hundred and fifty metres through streaks of light like sparks in a fire, combine into an intense sensory experience.

The concept uses simple technologies that are well understood and tested: the greenhouse, the chimney, turbines. Energy as light passes through the glass surface of the collector, warming the ground, and the air above it. The warm air tries to rise and the gentle slope of the collector guides it toward the chimney. At the same time the high temperature at the base of the chimney and the cool temperature at the top create a pressure difference which draws the air up through the turbines, creating electricity. The advantages of this method are its simplicity, longevity, low-maintenance and minimal impact on the landscape. The elegance of the conversion of light to energy is striking.

The temperature difference between the air at the perimeter of the collector and the heated air at the tower base is approximately fifteen degrees centigrade; the speed of the air is roughly twenty-four metres per second at the turbine. This means that maintenance can be carried out without stopping production of electricity, and if mitigated cleverly the conditions would be quite tolerable for visitors. We have proposed progressively increasing the shading and a simple passive cooling system as part of the experience of the access ramp and visitor space.

The solar chimney technology has been developed and refined for many years, and a full-scale prototype roughly the same size as the towers we are proposing here, was built and tested in Manzanares in Spain for the EU between 1982 and 1989. This is a fully-considered proposal at every level.

The energy production is highest during the day, corresponding to maximum air-conditioning use, but still continues at a lower level at night due to the heat storage effect of the ground itself. Experience has shown that wind-borne dust does not have a significant effect on the energy production, as it blown off periodically. Water for washing is not required.

The heat is mitigated for visitors using a process known since ancient times in the Middle East, whereby cool air is drawn by the action of the solar tower through long, shaded tubes under the access ramp and into the observation space at the base of the tower. The cooling effect is most active when most necessary, and uses no external energy.

The rooms required for electrical equipment are located at the base of each tower at ground level in the space between the turbines.

Environmental Impact:
The physical impact on the landscape is minimised because the bases of the towers occupy a very small area on the site (0.005% of the total), and the collectors are supported from slender posts with drilled foundations which require no excavation.

The foundations of the publicly accessible tower are approximately 10m below ground level. Those of the other two are no more than 3m below. The single pedestrian access ramp is long but narrow, so the excavations would also be minimal.

Maintenance is very low on this kind of structure because the only moving parts are in the three turbines, easily accessible at the base of each tower – continuous access across the landscape would not be necessary. Vehicles would be restricted to the zone parallel and immediately adjacent to the road.

The towers are steel structures; structurally efficient to avoid waste; prefabricated in segments offsite, and fully recyclable. The collector is generally unlaminated glass (except over the visitor access ramp) and could also be recycled. Both elements could be produced locally.

It is anticipated that there would be no significant impact on the water table due to the construction, and there is no water consumption in use. There is no production of pollutants or CO2 emissions in use. The fabrication of the tower and collector would of course produce CO2 but the long lifetime of the project, low-maintenance, and zero emissions in use would mitigate this.

The temperatures under the collector would clearly be elevated and particularly around the tower base, which would have an unavoidable effect on the existing flora and fauna in the long-term. However, the extreme temperature fluctuation common in dry, hot landscapes would be reduced and the environment under the collector would develop its own particular characteristics over time. The proximity of the sea would make it possible to collect condensation at times, which could aid the growth of specific plant types.

We are taking the approach that the natural environment should be left untouched to the greatest extent possible and allowed to develop naturally without promoting any particular planting vision – the infrastructure should become an integral part of the landscape.

low-res version PDF of submitted boards

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Sage and Coombe Architects
T. Kelly Wilson, Timothy Dunne, John Parker, Richard Kress, Peter Hansen, Christoph Timm, Peter Coombe, Allen Slamic, John Reed
Designed for Site #2 in Abu Dhabi, between Saadiyat Island and Yas Island.

land art generator
Design Submission for the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative Design Competition

Artist’s descriptive text:
One edge of this site is the line between two extreme conditions: the Rub al Khali and the Arabian Gulf. Here the desert meets water. The forms of our proposal are drawn from the interaction of the environmental conditions and the unique land forms of the Arabian Desert’s Empty Quarter.

Solar Sound Field responds to the scale of the site and creates an alternate landscape of forms that will be seen from afar while providing an unexpected and sublime experience for an individual visitor. The composition of objects across the site is reminiscent of geological forms found in the desert, the Jebel Tuwaiq for example. We created these primal forms as a child may play on a beach: we dig to expose water; we smooth the sand to create a protected place; we mound the sand to make a landscape; and we dig by the sea and watch as it invades.

land art generator

To generate electricity we harvest the most prevalent source of energy on the site- solar radiation. It is well established that all the energy stored in Earth’s reserve of fossil fuels from petroleum to coal, is matched by the energy from just three weeks of sunshine. Each square meter collects the approximate energy equivalent of roughly a barrel of oil each year, or 6 kilowatt-hours of energy every day in the desert.

Solar chimneys will capture energy from the sun’s heat and photovoltaic cells create energy from the sun’s light. We want to transform the latent energy of the site into a medium that can be seen, felt and heard. We give voice to the desert: we propose five musical machines and five accompanying musical compositions.

Each machine is designed and placed to address a unique condition of the site and provide a different orientation to the ground plain. The generated sounds, ordered and organized into modern compositions, and are acoustically matched to the spatial idea and position of the viewer as he moves from one chamber to the next.

land art generator

The Machines
Each machine is a composition of three components: an acoustic chamber, a glass skirt and an array of chromium steel pipes- 60 meters tall. The elements of the site- water, sand and air are represented in glass, concrete and polished steel. The glass skirts will float above the sand like a mirage of water. The colour of water, sand and sky are reflected and distorted in the mirror finish of the pipes. The pipes will dissolve into the sky. The concrete is made from the surrounding sand and will be come a part of the ground.

land art generator

Air underneath the glass skirts at the base of the pipes will be heated by the sun and an upward directed airstream created by the hot and buoyant air wanting to rise. This airflow, similar to an organ, provides the means to sustain a musical note through the resonance chamber in each solar chimney. The pipes will channel the airflow that drives a simple turbine and generates electricity. Water storage underneath the glass skirt will be used to store heat so that the stack effect continues throughout the night. The harvesting energy will be felt and heard throughout the day.

In addition to the turbines, electricity is generated by of 24,000 square meters of photovoltaic cells placed below the glass skirts. The electricity created will provide power needed on site. Excess power will be fed to the grid.

land art generator

Parking Area
A continuous dune, made from the excavations or spoils from the sound chambers, lines the parking and provides an acoustical barrier to the road. Separate entrances punctuate the dune. A visitor, upon leaving the parking area, would pass through the dune and follow pathways that link each machine. Descending into the cool shade of each chamber the visitor will find a symphony of sound, space and light.

Machine 1 Amphitheatre remains an ‘instrument.’ The available sound is offered the visitor to manipulate, and to be used by visiting sound artists and musicians who come with the purpose to explore the form of generated sound.

Musical Composition 1:
Suspension Chamberland art generatorland art generatorland art generatorland art generatorland art generator
Here the unpredictability of the converging counterpoints – disparate and dynamic voices unpredictably bouncing off one another – form moments of intense epiphany and inner-directed rumination engendered by an encounter with the surrounding spaces and energy.

Machine 2 Water permits the confluence of tidal water within the sound chamber, low frequency notes at the limit of human hearing visually observable on the surface of the water, registering their notes with pressure.

Musical Composition 2:
Performance Chamber
Out of the stillness of the water grotto rises a sonic wave of resonating low frequencies. The cluster of tones first presents itself as an inaudible sound wave somewhere that sends ripples over the surface before modulating and becoming humanly audible. Our eyes are presented with one image of water and faint light and our ears remind us of their voluminous powers.

Machine 3 Sky slides land beneath an inverted dome that is pierced by an oculus, brings the visitor to direct their gaze toward the sky.

Musical Composition 3:
Water Chamber
With a blast of direct sunlight at the center of this massive disc the heavens cut through our senses like the bright, soaring major harmonies created by layers upon layers of melodic threads. The sun’s radiance appropriately trails-off into the sounds of creation – birds of the sky.

Machine 4 Wadi develops a long and gradual swale to pass gently under the land, slowly approaching the sound field beneath the pipes above where the slow gradient of descent compliments the gradient of sound.

Musical Composition 4:
Sky Chamber
Two wind instruments, like comforting messengers from the heavens directed columns and conversing a tonal language at home in the Arabic culture, beckon the visitor along a graded pathway leading further into a blissful unknown.land art generator

Machine 5 Canyon directs the visitor into a deep trench down a ramp, to cross a bridge poised exactly at the mid point between top and bottom of the trench. With equal measures of space above and below, the visitor is placed in a suspension from ground and sky.

Musical Composition 5:
The vast stretch of upwards and downwards space is not inert but charges with the sound of arching and jubilant brass. Suspended and locked into some kind of celestial dance above the insistent gravitas of the string bass pizzicatti the stifled awe of an encounter with the sublime is given over to joyously pulsating celebration.

Scientific Principles: Solar Updraft Function of LAGI
The basic function of LAGI is to use the heating of air as in a greenhouse to produce power from updraft to turn a turbine.

The project consists of five differently geometrically shaped machines which operate independently from one another. They are located at distances of 100 to 400 meters apart.

Functional Principles
The function of each of the five machines can be divided into three parts, each of which derives from traditional and conventional technology.

1. Greenhouse– heating of the air,
2. Chimney– upward motion of hot air through the towers, and
3. Turbines– generation of electricity by turning of a turbine.

The solar radiation penetrates the glass roof of a greenhouse a heats the air below. This is similar to what happens in a car parked in the sun, the air will heat up until there is an equilibrium of the energy irradiated into the box and the total of the energy radiated out of the box and the energy loss by heat conduction through floor, walls and roof.

The real model must include the loss of the hot air to the actually not enclosed “box”. A dynamic flow model includes inflow of cold air into the greenhouse, transport of that air through the greenhouse structure while the air is heated, and loss of hot air from the greenhouse to the chimney(s).

Hot air rises as it is less dense than cold air. The rising hot air from the greenhouse or glass skirt turns powers the turbines.

To calculate the potential for energy production from the turbines placed in the solar chimneys we have looked for existing installation that may serve as precedent.
Power Calculations and Precedent Projects

low-res version PDF of submitted boards

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