Lunar Cubit: pyramids for the renewable energy age
By Darren Quick
February 1, 2011
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is a competition that challenges entrants to think outside the box to create functional yet beautiful renewable energy generation facilities. First prize has just been awarded to such a submission, but this one thinks outside the pyramid. The Lunar Cubit concept design consists of nine pyramids made from solar panels in a configuration modeled on the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza. The pyramids would not only be capable of providing electricity to 250 homes, but are also designed to serve as a lunar calendar.
Lunar Cubit, which took first place over Atelier DNA’s Windstalk concept, sees eight smaller pyramids encircling a larger central pyramid. The pyramids and their layout are scaled proportionally to the Great Pyramid of Cheops using the royal cubit – the earliest attested standard measure that was used in building the pyramids. They would be made from glass and amorphous silicon to give them the appearance of onyx polished to a mirror finish.
During the day, all nine pyramids would form a 1.74 MW utility-scale power plant and soak up energy from the sun using frameless solar panels. Energy from the smaller pyramids would be transferred to the central pyramid via underground cables where it would be converted to AC electricity and transmitted to the utility grid.
At night, energy efficient LEDs built into the pyramids would light up according to the phases of the moon. The central pyramid is lit to inversely reflect the lunar cycle – at the new moon it is at full illumination, while at the full moon the LEDs are off altogether relying solely on the moon for lighting. Meanwhile, the eight surrounding pyramids light up – again inversely – to mark the lunar phase like the face of a clock.
Its creators, Robert Flottemesch, Adrian DeLuca, Johanna Ballhaus and Jen DeNike, designed the project to be constructed 3 miles from Abu Dhabi international airport so that it would be visible from the air and create an instantly recognizable landmark.
“We are deeply honored to be recognized as winners of the LAGI competition. We are grateful for the tremendous support of Masdar in sponsoring the competition. I look forward to making this project a reality and contributing to the future of renewable energy in Abu Dhabi,” Robert Flottemesch said.
Although Lunar Cubit wouldn’t generate as much power as a dedicated solar power plant, LAGI obviously believes the design is feasible due to its potential as a public artwork and tourist attraction, if not for its electricity generating capabilities. It says the announcement of the winning entry is the next step towards the eventual construction of the first ever large-scale public artwork that will generate utility-scale electricity for city consumption.
And let’s not forget, this is the UAE – home of the Burj Khalifa – so the construction of Lunar Cubit is not beyond the realms of possibility. LAGI is currently seeking partners to begin its construction.
Via Fast Company.