Swedish architect Mans Tham went halfway around the world to find inspiration for this insanely awesome design for a serpent-shaped solar skin for the Sana Monica freeway. This renovation of existing urban infrastructure is a provocative conversation starter in terms of sustainable design, and this proposal is an incredible approach that would add 237 acres of solar power to the middle of Los Angeles! How fabulous is that?
From afar the solar structure looks like a long scaly serpent winding its way through the stucco and palm tree studded neighborhoods. Inside is a shaded tunnel-like roadway. Outside is a massive array of solar panels that produce a peak of 150 MW of clean energy for the local population. This is important, as distant power sources can lose 15% of their energy to power lines. The transmission of freeway noise is reduced, and Mans Tham even throws in electric car power stations beneath the behemoth to sweeten the deal.
He also proposes to capture the exhaust fumes to make algae fuel on the side of the freeway. That technology may be down the road, but the overall principle makes a lot of sense right now as we see large swaths of desert turned over for energy production. Add in the controversy over transmission lines and localized solar production makes a lot of sense. What better place to look than the huge amount of acres dedicated to the equally beloved and bemoaned automobile?