The Solar Gardens Visitors Center was created as a proposal for a large public art structure designed to harvest energy from the sun, and to collect and store rainwater for use in and around the structure. In addition, the structure and the surrounding plaza would be made from photo catalytic concrete that cleans itself, and the air.
The visitors center consist of a tall cone shaped structure that appears to grow out of the surrounding plaza. A large array of solar cells is mounted onto a sun tracking platform at the top of the structure. The solar cells convert sunlight into electricity, which powers the visitors center. The excess electricity is sent into the local power grid.
The shape around the perimeter of the structure flares out near the top in order to catch rainwater and direct it down into storage container buried under the plaza. This collected rainwater is used to water the plants that are growing in twelve curved shaped containers (with built-in benches) mounted around the perimeter of the plaza. The water is also recycled, purified, and used inside of the visitors center. The excess water would be used by the local community.
The center structure is naturally ventilated in the summer, and solar heated in the winter. It is also naturally lit during the day, and illuminated at night with solar powered energy efficient electric lights.
The hope is to install this and other Solar Garden Visitors Centers in cities that want to promote themselves as forward thinking, environmentally friendly communities, communities that also see the potentials of increasing tourism through the celebration of public art that integrates alternative energy gathering and storage systems into the built environment.
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