Winners of Land Art Generator Initiative announced

Winner of Masdar-sponsored competition unveiled in Abu Dhabi

Lunar Cubit was selected as the winner by a panel of 14 judges.
Lunar Cubit was selected as the winner by a panel of 14 judges.

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An examination into the nature of time has been named as the winner of the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) design competition.

The LAGI is a worldwide public arts initiative that invites collaborative teams of artists, architects, landscape architects and designers, working with engineers and scientists, to create new ways of thinking about what renewable energy generation looks like.

Conceived by the UAE-based husband and wife team, Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry, LAGI centres on the concept that renewable energy generation can be beautiful as well as functional. The initiative seeks to broaden public awareness of the promise of renewable energy.

The goal of the LAGI is to design and construct public art installations that have the added benefit of large scale clean energy generation. Each sculpture will continuously distribute clean energy into the electrical grid, with the potential to provide power to thousands of homes.

“The initiative was born in early 2009 as a product of our shared interest in creating a meaningful social art project that could comment on the important issues of energy and ecology, while actively helping to contribute to solutions,” Ferry explained.

“As a creative team we have always been focused on community outreach and education, new media, interdisciplinary collaborations, and sustainability. The LAGI project naturally evolved as the perfect combination of all of these things. We wanted to help stimulate new ideas of how renewable energy can be used in the context of large works of public art, both being very inspired by the land art movement of the middle 20th century.”

Lunar Cubit was announced as the winner of the inaugural LAGI on January 19, during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. The winning project was created by Robert Flottemesch, Adrian DeLuca, Johanna Ballhaus and Jen DeNike.

The jury consisted of 14 highly-qualified professionals across the disciplines of art, science, architecture, journalism, public policy, and urban planning. “What we heard from the jurors (and we certainly agree) was that Lunar Cubit best combined a pragmatic and constructible design with a beautiful and meaningful concept. Because the work is relatively simple in its execution, it would pay back its own embodied carbon footprint in only five years time. It would pay back its own construction cost in twenty years based on its production of real megawatt-hours of energy to the utility grid,” said Ferry.

“But it would also give the city an immeasurable benefit of cultural capital, increased tourism and economic development—benefits that normally accrue to cities from all public art projects, but which would especially be valuable in this case.”

Lunar Cubit examines the nature of time through nightly contemplation of lunar phases and the daily transformation of sunlight into electricity. The concept is designed to be open to the public, offering a personal experience where one can literally reach out and touch a 1.74MW utility-scale power plant capable of powering 250 homes.

The plant takes the form of nine monolithic pyramids rising from the sands of Abu Dhabi. The artwork is conceived of as a monthly calendar, allowing viewers to measure time through the eight lunar phases. All nine pyramids are proportional to the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza and scaled using the royal cubit. However, they are made of glass and amorphous silicon, rather than stone, creating the impression of onyx polished to a mirror finish.

Lunar Cubit illuminates in an inversely proportional relationship to the lunar cycle, becoming most lit during the night of a new moon. Accompanying the centre pyramid is a corresponding outer pyramid, clearly marking the lunar phase like the hand of a clock – light forever rising and falling as the moon circumnavigates the earth.

Data monitoring will be accessible on site and remotely via a web application so that everyone can follow in real time how much energy is being generated.

The international competition received hundreds of entries from over 40 countries in its inaugural year. The announcement of the winning design is the next step towards the eventual construction of the first ever large-scale public artwork that will generate utility-scale electricity for city consumption.
Masdar sponsored the first prize award and hosted the winning team in Abu Dhabi for the occasion.

“We are deeply honoured to be recognized as winners of the LAGI competition. We are grateful for the tremendous support of Masdar in sponsoring the competition. I look forward to making this project a reality and contributing to the future of renewable energy in Abu Dhabi,” Robert Flottemesch said.

LAGI is currently seeking partnership for the next stage, construction.

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