Renewable energy can be beautiful

Global multidisciplinary services consultancy, AECOM has designed an art installation in Abu Dhabi that uses seawater and sunlight to generate clean, sustainable energy demonstrating that renewable energy can be beautiful.

The interdisciplinary team of architects, artists, engineers and landscape designers developed the iconic land art proposal for a prestigious competition organised by the Land Art Generator Initiative, a United Arab Emirates based arts group.

The open ended brief provided a challenge, with the requirement to create a memorable environmental artwork that was also a net generator of energy.

The team’s response was Transpire, a bold installation that transforms a barren strip of Abu Dhabi coast into a dramatic yet elegant piece of public art.

Transpire is a net producer of energy, a net zero carbon solution, and emits zero pollutants. Elegant in its simplicity, the installation celebrates the alchemy of natural elements essential for human survival; sunlight and seawater transform into abundant electrical power, freshwater and salt.

Joined by Squint/Opera, a well known, London based media production studio, AECOM’s team drew on its combined experience to develop a project which would work seamlessly with the environment. Stretching over 1.6 kilometres, the project incorporates five interrelated parts which include a 300,000sq m field of parabolic solar concentrators, one hundred wind modulated stainless steel spires, a grove of 1,000 sustainably irrigated acacia trees, a glittering moat of crystallized salt brine and a publicly accessible steam turbine plant.

Transpire also functions as a dynamic art venue and artists and the public are invited to project imagery, films and text onto the cloud bank at night. During the day, under the right conditions, rainbows will be visible all the way from Abu Dhabi.

This installation is both powerful and delicate. It will always change the way it looks, day or night, overcast or clear, in calm winds or breezy days. By its creation in a harsh environment, it is resilient as the human desire to create sustainable life in the first place.

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