In Land Art Generator Initiative’s most recent green competition in Melbourne, Australia, contestants were tasked to develop a cohesion solution for the “St. Kilda Triangle,” an area bounded by local markets, entertainment district, and popular beach. The winning design, by Australian design studio NH Architecture, Ark Resources, John Bahoric Design, and RMIT Architecture students, delivered a solar canopy with nearly 9,000 flexible photovoltaic panels called “Light Up.” The design connects the three areas and also generates renewable energy for the site’s theater, amusement park, and 500 local homes.

The proposal would have the solar panel canopy cover a large stretch of street, creating shade below and a bridge to the beach above. In addition to the solar panels, the proposal includes wind power generated by the swaying bridge and microbial fuel cells. Combined, it could produce enough energy to power 500 Australian homes in addition to the site’s theater and amusement park. Lithium-ion cells from used electric car batteries embedded in the handrails of the bridge can store excess energy generated by the panels. This extra energy can then be fed back into the grid. The plan includes designs for a hotel and cultural center as well, with the intention of making the area a new urban landmark.

“Light Up” was one of 25 ideas shortlisted for the LAGI prize and received $16,000 in prize money. A $5,000 second-place prize went to Seattle design firm Olson Kundig, for a hydro-solar generator promenade called “Night & Day.” The project involved a pedestrian bridge and recreation area, with an enormous photovoltaic solar sail that would power homes while also pumping ocean water into a hydro battery vessel. After dark, water would be released from the vessel, its kinetic energy transforming into electricity.

Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

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