Acclaimed architecture practice Olson Kundig is best known for its spectacular residential works in the Pacific Northwest, yet the Seattle-based firm has embarked on somewhat new ground in its recent submission to the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) competition. Held this year in Melbourne, the international contest has invited designers to create a large-scale and site-specific public artwork that could generate clean energy for the city. In response, Olson Kundig developed Night and Day, a massive solar sail concept designed to produce 1,000 MWh of clean energy through a combination of solar energy and a hydro battery.

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rendering of people walking on a boardwalk beneath curving solar sail

Launched as part of Victoria State’s Renewable Energy Action Plan and Melbourne’s 2020 net-zero energy goals, the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative competition promotes a “clean energy landscape for a post-carbon world.” Olson Kundig’s Night and Day submission taps into that vision with a sculptural hydro-solar generator that uses eye-catching design to bring clean energy to the forefront of the public’s eye. Proposed for St. Kilda Triangle on Port Phillip Bay, the renewable energy power plant could power up to 200 homes with emissions-free energy, 24 hours a day.

rendering of people playing in grass near solar sail

During the day, the curved solar sail — topped with 5,400 square meters of photovoltaic panels — collects energy and powers a pump that directs water into a suspended hydro battery vessel. At night, that water would be discharged through two Pelton turbines and transformed by a generator into electricity — a design solution that addresses the common problem of energy storage. Modular and scalable, the Night and Day proposal could also be installed at various sites.

graphic design of side view of solar sail

Related: This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne

“This was different because it wasn’t just about creating architecture, something for the pleasure of its inhabitants,” said principal and owner Kevin Kudo-King of the submission, which also doubles as a pedestrian bridge. “It also needed to function as a machine, and it needed to generate power.” The winners of the 2018 LAGI Melbourne competition will be announced at an awards ceremony on October 11, 2018 at Fed Square, Melbourne.

+ Olson Kundig

Images via LAGI