When we think about the visual impact of energy plants, we usually envision ugly smokestacks belching out toxic fumes. Of course, many people also consider wind turbines to be eyesores and even solar panels are often viewed unfavorably from an aesthetic point of view.
A sustainable design competition known as the Land Art Generator Initiative is challenging artists and architects to create artwork that can both generate renewable energy and enlighten the public on environmental issues. Entrants have to come up with build-able designs that produce renewable energy and “add value to public space, inspire and educate.”
The competition is an example of ways cities are trying to incorporate sustainable technologies into their infrastructure. The submissions to this year’s biennial competition were all designed to operate in the waters off Santa Monica Pier in Southern California. They make use of wind, waves and the sun to generate electricity. Santa Monica suffers from the drought that is plaguing much of the western U.S., so a number of the designs also incorporate desalination technology. The designs range from whimsical to otherworldly.
First place was a fanciful fog-harvesting system in the form of sailing ships that also generates electricity from the wind. Second place was a sculpture inspired by the form of whales that generates electricity both from waves and from the sun. Third place was another design inspired by boats that concentrates sunlight to generate power and also provides a habitat for undersea life.
It is unclear if any of these concepts will actually be built, but if any of them was, it would be a beautiful and useful addition to the Santa Monica beachfront.
Photo courtesy of Land Art Generator Initiative.