Dubai’s designers protest a planned development project with this musical power plant
If we continue to usurp every inch of undeveloped land in order to protect consumption, we will likewise destroy the very biodiversity upon which all life depends. Everything matters: that blade of grass? It’s someone’s food. Those bobble-eyed frogs? They get eaten too. Eventually, this energy chain – a chain of transferred calories – gives us the nourishment that we need in order to feed our brethren. So when we pollute another wetland or chop down another stand of trees, we foolishly destroy ourselves.
This is no secret to scientists or environmentalists or even small children, so surely it isn’t a secret to the entrepreneurs who pursue irresponsible building schemes? Just in case it is, Dubai’s illuminated designers are pointing out the possibility that power need not pollute, that energy can be sustainable, and that nature should take front stage.
We have featured several projects that were submitted to Dubai’s Land Art Generator Initiative competition: the crux is to create harmless, artistic power production facilities that can be connected to the city grid. Submitted by the Rebar Group, Artocos is a sort of passive protest against potential development plans on the east side of the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Lagoon Development project, if re-initiated, will comprise 70 million square feet, connect seven artificial islands, and will include a slew of apartments, malls, office buildings, hotels, resorts, a museum, and Dubai’s first opera house, according to the designers. So far, the Dubai lagoon substation has been completed and is ready to be commissioned, which would provide the requisite energy to power such a plan.
“With the proposed major development around the site, it is anticipated the volume of treated sewage water entering the wetland will soon increase considerably,” wrote the designers.
Shaped like the endangered Socotra Cormorant that take refuge in the nearby wetland, Artocos consist of a curved, double layer wall. The interior wall has a sheen of dark, thin-filmed photovoltaic modules. Air is sucked in through grated vents, which is heated, creating a convection that activates the PV cells.
This air then rises to power an enclosed wind turbine, as well as a series of flue organ pipes. In other words, Artocos produce wind and solar energy, as well as music. Visitors can handle mechanical levers that manipulate musical notes.
“The turbine is based on the Airbreeze model by Southwest Windpower, Inc. Operating at 20% efficiency, the 400 Watt, 46” diameter Airbreeze generates 700kWh per year,” and the “solar modules produce a steady 3 kW for 7 to 8 hours in the summer and an average of 1.5 kW for 4 to 5 hours in the winter.”
Although the designers don’t mention having conducted an environmental assessment or whether the “noise” or the plants themselves will interfere with nearby wetlands, at the very least they demonstrate how far a small amount of creative, intellectual muscle can go towards generating cleaner power.