Opinion

Turning Power Plants into Public Art

 This “Solar Hourglass” doesn’t measure time, but instead produces energy by capturing heat from the sun and storing it on a receiver. (Image courtesy of LAGI)

This “Solar Hourglass” doesn’t measure time, but instead produces energy by capturing heat from the sun and storing it on a receiver. (Image courtesy of LAGI)

There is no shortage of art critiquing humankind’s abuse of the earth today. While these works help illuminate the problem, they don’t actually solve it. But what if artists could use their know-how to engage in a practice that actually brings about real change?

That’s the theoretical question behind the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), a group that hopes to crack 21st-century energy challenges by encouraging collaboration between artists and architects, scientists and engineers. On its website, LAGI states one of the simplest problems facing renewable energy today is the fact most residents don’t want an ugly (albeit sustainable) power plant within view of their homes. Founding Co-Directors Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry explained in a 2010 essay on the subject:

[We] may be wise to question the ability of advances in renewable energy technologies to reach their greatest potential if their physical forms continue to exist entirely outside of aesthetic and cultural considerations. This question is reinforced by the fact that the process of harnessing renewable resources such as the sun and the wind often requires that energy generation facilities be located in more visible locations.

To tackle this challenge, LAGI throws a biennial design contest that invites interdisciplinary teams to submit workable designs for “public art installations” doubling as eco-friendly power plants. This year, participants were tasked with creating a design for Refshaleøen, a former shipyard in Copenhagen now experiencing urban regeneration. Three hundred proposals from 55 countries were submitted, and LAGI announced the winners last Friday. Here are some of the proposed designs.

Solar Hourglass” by Santiago Muros Cortés of Buenos Aires won first prize. It doesn’t measure time, but instead produces energy by capturing heat from the sun and storing it on a receiver. (Image courtesy of LAGI)
Solar Hourglass” by Santiago Muros Cortés of Buenos Aires won first prize. It doesn’t measure time, but instead produces energy by capturing heat from the sun and storing it on a receiver. (Image courtesy of LAGI)
"Quiver" won second prize. It was developed by Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz of Warsaw, Poland. The creators write that their design shows the “symbolic relations between nature and technology.” On the one hand, the garden’s Miscanthus grass, which can grow in soils of even the poorest quality, represents low-tech solutions, while the Windbelts on the towers pulling energy from the wind represent high-tech ones. (Image courtesy of LAGI)
“Quiver” won second prize. It was developed by Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz of Warsaw, Poland. The creators write that their design shows the “symbolic relations between nature and technology.” On the one hand, the garden’s Miscanthus grass, which can grow in soils of even the poorest quality, represents low-tech solutions, while the Windbelts on the towers pulling energy from the wind represent high-tech ones. (Image courtesy of LAGI)
"Quiver" (Image courtesy of LAGI )
“Quiver” (Image courtesy of LAGI )
 "eMotions: Energy Motions and Art Emotions" won third prize. It was developed by Antonio Maccà and Flavio Masi of Padova, Italy. Each cylinder is a hybrid renewable energy generator that integrates photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and other wind energy systems. Their designs are artistic interpretations of the varying natural habitats in Denmark — its rivers, beaches, marine ecosystem, sand dunes, lakes, farmland, arctic snow, grasslands, forests and cities. (Image courtesy of LAGI)
“eMotions: Energy Motions and Art Emotions” won third prize. It was developed by Antonio Maccà and Flavio Masi of Padova, Italy. Each cylinder is a hybrid renewable energy generator that integrates photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and other wind energy systems. Their designs are artistic interpretations of the varying natural habitats in Denmark — its rivers, beaches, marine ecosystem, sand dunes, lakes, farmland, arctic snow, grasslands, forests and cities. (Image courtesy of LAGI)
"eMotions: Energy Motions and Art Emotions" (Image courtesy of LAGI)
“eMotions: Energy Motions and Art Emotions” (Image courtesy of LAGI)

h/t Arch Daily

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