BIG won’t let its ambitions be impeded by the laws of physics--namely, gravity. For a competition to plan and design the area around the Hjulsta Intersection, a massive highway infrastructure project just north of Stockholm, BIG teamed up with firms Grontji and Spacescape to create “Energy Valley,” and their winning master plan addresses not only the area around the highway interchange but also above it. The plan's surreal defining feature is “a reflective, self‐sustaining hovering sphere mirroring Stockholm as it is, new and old, creating a 180 degree view of the area for the drivers on their way in or out of the city.” Covered with photovoltaic film and tethered to the ground, this mysterious giant orb would supposedly generate enough solar and wind power to keep itself aloft while also providing power for over 200 surrounding houses. The orb floats above a man-made valley that incorporates a variety of natural environments, from forests to wetlands. “The Energy Valley is a cross‐over between urbanism, landscape, architecture, art, and infrastructure into a new neighborhood of Stockholm. Harnessing the momentum of the massive investment in tunnels and highways and putting the excess excavation to use as a man‐made valley, we create an interdisciplinary hybrid of logistic, economic, environmental and social infrastructure,” said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. Oh, yes, there's a bike path, too. In the invited competition BIG beat out the Norwegian landscape firm Snøhetta, Danish landscape architect Kristine Jensen, and the Swedish firm Erik Giudice Architects. The scheme certainly fits Ingels' “hedonistic sustainability” approach, but if this fantastical idea actually comes to pass, we’re betting his future work will leave earth behind altogether for the final frontier.
Posts tagged with "Solar Energy":
One of the city’s largest private solar power installations promises to produce 270,000 kWh of clean energy annually, eliminating about 235,000 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution each year. The new solar array is part of an initiative by employee-owned kitchen and bath distributor Davis & Warshow to green its Queens headquarters. The installation includes 1,038 panels affixed to the rooftops of three buildings in the company’s 250,000-square-foot complex on Maspeth Creek. Surrounded by low-rise buildings with direct sunlight exposure from the south, the site is an ideal one for an urban installation on the East Coast. Financing for the project came from Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, which Davis & Warshow obtained through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). These included NYSERDA incentives worth $453,606, a one-time treasury grant of $393,650, and an annual, four-year property tax abatement of $75,123. The company estimates it will recoup the system’s $900,000 cost in three to four years. Since Davis & Warshow introduced a “Practically Green” strategy to become more eco-friendly two years ago, it has switched its seven showrooms and eight warehouses over to low-flow fixtures, becoming a testing ground for some of its own merchandise. It has also encouraged employees to carpool and banned bottled water, replacing it with a filtered water system. Though the solar array will have the most significant impact on the company's carbon footprint—satisfying more than a third of its annual energy consumption—it hopes to be a benchmark for other private green initiatives, large or small. As the Bloomberg Administration’s Green Economy Plan moves ahead with its own projects, the new installation suggests that the private sector has an equally important role in bringing solar power to the city’s rooftops.
Winded. Popular Science has the story of a bridge concept in Italy called Solar Wind featuring an array of wind turbines capable of generating 40 million kilowatt hours annually. If that weren't enough, the proposal also incorporates a solar roadway for an added green boost. Juiced. The Times of Trenton reports that Princeton University is converting 27 acres in West Windsor, New Jersey into a field 16,500 photovoltaic panels able to generate 8 million kilo-watt hours of clean, green energy every year. The project will begin in 2012 and is expected to generate 5.5% of electricity for the university. Stripped. Citiwire considers the downfall of the suburban commercial strip and it doesn't look good for sprawl. As shopping trends evolve and consumer taste retreats from the generic strip landscape, hybrid shopping centers resembling main streets could be the future. TOD or not TOD. Residents of an award-winning transit-oriented development in Maryland featuring a wide median where a light rail line was planned have turned their backs to their neighborhoods original lofty goals. StreetsBlog sums up the latest high-profile case of NIMBY-ism.
As automakers vie to release the next generation of plug-in electric cars, many eco-conscious drivers have wondered about the lack of charging infrastructure in dense urban environments. Unlike in, say, London, where charging points are being planned within one mile of every citizen by 2015, New Yorkers have heard little about curbside electric pumps. Well, if you’re looking for a place to plug in your GM Volt, one company’s vision of the future has arrived. This week, Brooklyn-based sustainable energy company Beautiful Earth (BE) unveiled their new solar-powered electric vehicle charging station, the first in New York and one of just a few in the world. Designed and built by BE from recycled steel shipping containers, the off-grid station sits on a lot near the company headquarters in Red Hook, collecting the sun’s rays with a roof of Sharp 235-watt photovoltaic panels. With a battery bank that stores electricity around the clock, the 6-kilowatt station can charge a car even at night, and could potentially feed unused electricity back into the grid. For now, the new station’s larger impact is more symbolic than practical: It’s only being used to charge BE’s company electric sports car, a BMW Group Mini E (though it would work just as well with any electric vehicle). A full charge gives the Mini E a little over a 100-mile range and takes about three hours, but shorter charging times are well within reach. “As the technology advances, easy charging stations will become increasingly realistic,” said Amanda Cleary, BE’s manager of sustainability.
On the occasion of the 2009 G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, architecture firm MDAA (Massimo d'Alessandro & Associati) of Rome designed a photovoltaic tower to power an existing cellular communications aerial. The installation brought to life an idea that has been paddled about quite a bit in recent years: equipping our existing infrastructure with energy-producing technology. After the G8 tower was erected, MDAA designed a more efficient version for Vodafone (the largest mobile network operator in the world). The new tower raises the design quality, lowers the use of materials, and is capable of producing 15KWp, enough to run broadcasting equipment. Check out that design, as well as more on the G8 tower, after the jump.