Posting in Architecture
Ready-to-build ideas for Staten Island, New York's hurricane-battered borough.
Here’s a post-election political litmus test: Do you think wind generators, those massive pinwheels set on hilltops, are pretty? Say yes, and likely you’re a left-leaner, Al Gore type. Say no? You may be a Republican stalwart, maybe a Trump or Murdoch.
Or not. Maybe you’re just one of a growing number of artists and architects who think our power infrastructure lacks a certain aesthetic flair.
A few of these likeminded artsy types got together a competition to dream up new ideas for land art that would also generate power in New York City. The site? The massive Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.
In a city still without power in some places -- and with much of Staten Island in need of serious rebuilding, all due to Hurricane Sandy -- this is an ideas competition we really need.
Art that powers a city
And here it is: The results, unveiled last week, are fascinating and eye-popping.
Co-sponsored by the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, the goal of the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is to build some very big public artworks that also generate very big amounts of clean, renewable energy.
Yes, these are sculptures that produce power for thousands of homes.
The winning submission envisaged creating piezoelectric energy from a wind-rippled metal mesh wall about 10 stories tall. The work, Scene-Sensor by James Murray and Shota Vashakmadze, both at Georgia Tech School of Architecture, captured first place and the $15,000 purse.
One visually stunning entrant was Heliofield, created by New York-based Michael Chaveriat, Yikyu Choe, and Myung Kweon Park, in which an array of solar modules rises “out of the prairie grasses.” (This is unlike the usual solar arrays, which coexist only with dirt.) At night, the modules glow and flicker.
Another scheme, by a team from Winnipeg, offers a poetic idea and a 1980s song title, 99 Red Balloons. The proposed 50-foot tall balloons “sway softly in the breeze” while capturing solar power in their organic resin membranes -- a cool MIT invention from back in 2008.
Wind turbine-topped skyscrapers?
This is the kind of design competition we’re used to seeing in Europe, not the United States.
But then again, New York is going positively Danish with its green power dreams. Mayor Bloomberg has lately fantasized about topping skscrapers and bridges with wind turbines. Last year, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection applied to lease a vast wind farm miles and miles off the coast of Queens; Bloomberg avidly supported it.
Smart idea. An MIT source estimates that it would take 4,000 wind turbines (at 5 megawatts each) to meet the city’s annual electrical consumption. Sounds almost feasible.
Net-zero architecture, too
There’s more to the idea of art that generates power, and architects should be in the thick of it. If you’re not (or not sure), please read on.
Net-zero energy buildings -- some call them NZEBs -- are an emerging class of super-green buildings that don’t consume power. If done right they should return power to the grid. The Living Building Challenge now offers a certification for zero-energy projects, similar to a LEED rating.
In fact, New York’s first NZEB has just been announced -- for Staten Island, of all places.
When it opens in 2015, Public School 62, a 444-seat primary school designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for Richmond, Staten Island, will harvest solar energy from the photovoltaic arrays covering its roof and south façade.
Also key to the project’s success is an “ultra-tight, high-performance building envelope,” and lots of energy-efficient systems, such as lighting and heating. But it also has a geothermal system, solar hot-water collectors and closed-loop components like its energy recovery ventilators.
The school looks like the odd machine it is, draped over by a clunky, photovoltaic cheese grater. (It's no land art, yes, we understand.) But anyway the implications are huge: If Manhattan had just one NZEB on each city block, power use on the eastern seaboard would be cut by at least 1 gigawatt per year.*
Or if a nearby borough were to rebuild with sun-harvesting mega-balloons and solar prairie pods, all within view of a bridge made of piezoelectric pavilions?
Manhattan would finally find reason to be jealous.
Nov 6, 2012
I believe that all of these problems can be resolved by designing new kinds of cities and a totally new kind if transportation. The new kind of transportation could replace most existing cars, tractor trailer trucks, airplanes, buses, and trains. It could be much faster, safer, occupy some of the same highway between cities, and above all, be more efficient! I have started by designing a new architectural concept form to accommodate city dwellers. This is a concept that hasn't been tried. But it's a hard day on the planet. So what will it be? Another technological miracle or that same street corner in the next city just like Manhattan?
Weather predictions have already announced that coastal cities will end up submerged under several meters of water in a near future, due to climate changes already showing as tsunamis like the Japanese one or hurricanes like Sandy. How come they are planning to reconstruct that devastated area? it should be left as it is and use that money to build new houses in safer places. All this wrong reasoning makes you wonder about human intelligence or should I specify, Politicians intelligence?
Ocean rise may just be rhetoric, too! Rebuilding near current sea level is not a chance I would want to take. A strong and well placed Winter storm could do the same type of damage along the New Jersey and New York shore. Placing lives at stake and also very expensive to fix property and infrastructure damage.
I read a lot of items related to energy and power. It seems that large numbers of writers on the subject do not know the difference between energy and power or the units of energy and power. This article mentions a unit of gigawatts per year. The watt is a unit of power or the rate of energy use and already contains the per time unit 1 watt = 1 joule/sec. The proper unit here, if power is intended, is just gigawatt. I believe that this article intends the unit to represent energy, which can be represented as power X time, in this case gigawatt-hr would be appropriate and one could refer to gigawatt-hr/year. As a physicist, I find that when units are incorrect, the clarity of the writing suffers greatly.
Require Utilities to Pay homes $0.54 kwh to feed solar onto the grid. This will make investing in solar attractive!
Teddy Kennedy who blocked wind turbines off of Martha's Vineyard while he was alive. Do you consider him a Republican stalwart?
...the same Federal government that will within the next several years be regulating more of the economy in the name of "climate change" will also fund the rebuilding of the Jersey and New York shorelines, businesses, and homes right where they were before. If "climate change" and rising sea levels are true threats, then we should be removing people from the shore; not spending billions to replace homes and businesses of the 1%-ers.
That's redundant, he did provide a power*time estimation. Although saying 114,800Kw/h per year would be more standard and easier to visualise and price. In my city that would be a savings of $13,397.16 annually.
...but don't ask the rest of us to help fund what is in reality the dwelling places of the privileged few who just happen to want to live by the water. If a boat owner has a boat destroyed, the boat is restored by the insurer. It ought to be the same with dwellings built in flood zones. It is luxury living for the privileged few and I resent having to pay for their losses with increased premiums for insurance or having tax money collected from the general public used to rebuild dwellings in these places. It is socially wrong.