The biennial 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition is held in different countries to promote and enhance the usage of green technology generated from public art for the purpose of informing and beautifying communities for the locals and visitors. This year, the event was held at Santa Monica Pier, California; where the finalists, Heerim Architects and Planners from South Korea have built a sparkling orb in a bid to put attention towards “the sustainable architectural culture that aspires the coexistence of human, nature and the architecture itself”. Using transparent luminescent solar mirrors, the Clear Orb is a magnificent architectural masterpiece applying a playful approach to a holistic design. The design is capable of producing up to half-a-million gallons of fresh water each year for the drought-stricken state of California while adding charm and beauty to the Santa Monica Pier.
LAGI justifies their competition on the basis of the intertwined nature of energy and water in today’s world. For this year, they chose California as the amount of energy and water needs in the state is ever so rising while it faces one of the worst water shortages in its history. Previously the competition just focused on the production of energy using public architecture, but this year they have expanded the definition of sustainable infrastructure to include the production of drinking water along with clean electricity because of the drought.
Among the hundreds of entries made this year, The Clear Orb stands out due to its aesthetic attraction and practicability. The Orb will be accessible from the Santa Monica Pier via the beach, and the sphere gently tips toward the water’s surface to harvest wave energy from the existing breakwater. Inside the orb, a list of extinct animals runs as a slideshow, instigating the visitors to reflect on human being’s adverse impact on its fellow inhabitants.
The glass orb is about 130 feet in diameter, with the surface covered with transparent solar concentrators capable of supplying the energy for other functions in the orb. A solar still is installed inside the orb which uses solar energy to circulate water and convert seawater into fresh water through evaporation and condensation. The clean water then beautifully flows through a step fountain which also supports the structure. The designers explains the design as “an artful interpretation of the power of light and water to give life.”
Energy can also be harvested using the oscillating water column along the contemplation walk, which could again be used to power the solar distillation pumps and the grid. Although in terms of energy and water generation The Clear Orb cannot compete with some other designs such as The Pipe, which produces 1.5 billion gallons of water compared to Orb’s 500,000 gallons. But The Orb still might win the competition as it beautifully fulfills the primary goal of educating the community and visitors about sustainability while transforming the area’s landscape using such a vibrant work of art.
Who do you think will win this year’s LAGI competition? Let us know in the comments’ section below!