Public Space & Clean Energy Production


How might we create public environments that harvest natural resources in order to generate the power that these same public places consume?

Energy consumption and production is one of our most pressing global challenges. Fusing energy production with architecture and public space design is an emerging field which demands a knowledge of the technologies available for integration into built form. Currently we have a knowledge gap in this area which means that advancement is slow. 

Cutting edge design practitioners are however arming themselves right now with knowledge regarding clean energy production in order to make their work form part of the global response to climate change. Technologies that lend themselves to integration into the built environment include:


  • Silicone solar photovoltaic

  • Organic photovoltaic

  • Emerging technologies - 3d cells, nanostructures, ultraviolet solar


  • Horizontal and vertical axis wind turbines



This example, Breathing Totems, is a thermal chimney with vertical axis wind turbines. It is taken from the Land Art Generator Initiative and is a wind turbine fuelled by rising hot air from the daytime sun and supplemented by night time winds. The design creates a public square urban environment which operates at a stable temperature and it removes toxic particles from the air. It is designed to generate an annual electricity output of 800 MWh (ne megawatt hour (Mwh) being roughly the equivalent power that 330 residential homes consume in one hour).

Concepts like this provide an exciting vision for a clean energy future that blends public space design and energy infrastructure.

Author: Stephen Burton


View all articles