Public Art as Power Plant
Sustainability has had a monumental impact on architecture and design. Building on this influence, an emerging typology sees public art as a medium for integrating environmental solutions into the infrastructure of the city.
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) for example envisions public art as a power plant, with sculptures and installations that “continuously distribute clean energy into the electrical grid… .” A “Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies” outlines the benefits a land art generator can bring to a city, and LAGI has hosted design competitions in Abu Dhabi, New York, and Copenhagen to try and promote multidisciplinary energy solutions that combine aesthetics and pragmatism. Balance | Imbalance, a submission to the 2014 LAGI competition in Copenhagen, uses floating buoys to harness wave energy from the ocean while photovoltaic cells absorb solar power and kinetic energy is collected from movement generated by human interaction with the piece itself.
Artistic sustainability is cropping up in cities around the world. In Mexico City, an innovative tile module system that provides a dramatic, sculptural building façade features a surface treatment that “eats pollution” by converting pollutants into water on contact. Renton, Washington is home to Waterworks Gardens, a storm water treatment centre that doubles as an eight-acre public sculpture park. Here in Vancouver, our own TELUS Garden features a curved glass pavilion that will create an iconic canopy along Georgia Street while capturing rainwater to offset domestic water usage.
‘Green’ public art is a perfect pairing of pragmatism and poetry that can enrich the form and function of our built environment.
[Top Image: "Balance | Imbalance" by Hideaki Nishimura was submitted to the 2014 Land Art Generator Initiative Competition in Copenhagen. ]