From the New York architects Decker Yeadon comes Light Sanctuary, a massive desert sculpture designed to look like a mirage. Or is it a mirage that looks like a massive desert sculpture?
However you want to look at it, the piece is 100 acres of (real) 33-foot-tall vertical photovoltaic panels curving and swooping through the Dubai sands like a gargantuan Richard Serra. From the architects:
"The precise optical effects of reflection, diffusion, and inversion that are an essential feature of the desert landscape have acquired a reputation of mystery and even of deception. This proposal, instead, brings clarity, utility, lightness, and authentic meaning to the idea of the mirage."
Which is an arty way of saying that the project does a lot more than look pretty. More to the point, it generates nearly 5,000 megawatt-hours of solar energy a year.
The proposal is an entry in the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative competition, which asked designers to dream up some sort of land art that can also produce copious amounts of clean energy. Sponsored by the Dubai architecture firm Studied Impact, the contest cuts to the heart of what few will admit: Green energy needs to be beautiful (on top of being cost-effective, efficient, etc.), otherwise it'll never win widespread acceptance. Case in point: Endless bitch fights in Nantucket Sound.
So Decker Yeadon's Light Sanctuary sounds like a good place to start. It's next to a wildlife sanctuary out in the middle of nowhere. It promises to minimally impact the environment (apparently, it would only touch the ground at a single "concentration point"; the rest would be organized on a network of narrow, floating supports). It's good-looking. All that's needed, then, is a little political and financial support, two other things that occasionally appear in the distance but often fail to materialize.
[Images courtesy of Decker Yeadon]