“River of Light” wins US clean energy design competition

A solar-powered arch has been named winner of the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), a design competition to find the best way to incorporate green generation into public space on a site in Connecticut.

The arch was a joint effort between architects Pirie Associates and Lindsay Suter, and sculptor Gar Waterman. It will be called the Rio Iluminado, and will be capable of generating 25.5MWh of clean energy a year thanks to 83.6 sq m of photovoltaic panels. 

It will be based on the 3.4 acre whitewater park along the Willimantic River owned by the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership, where it will power a "multi-use recreational site and catalyse socioeconomic development".

James Turner, WWP President said: "Rio Iluminado cleverly addresses how to bring the river closer to the community and vice-versa. We are thrilled to have a project design that will result in such an intricately conceived and strikingly executed work of art for the community to enjoy and be inspired by for years to come."

Second place in the competition was won by a 10.6m vertical solar-powered sculpture by architects Höweler + Yoon and Gray Organischi, which would be capable of producing 94MWh of energy each year.

In third place was "Solar Boombox", a repurposed shipping container also running on solar power that could play music and produce 6.7MWh.

WWP and LAGI worked with the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts on the project.

Image courtesy of LAGI/Pirie Associates/Lindsay Suter/Gar Waterman

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