An open international contest has been announced for a large-scale clean energy-generating art installation in Melbourne, Australia (Deadline: 6 May)
The free-to-enter competition seeks ‘ambitious and creative’ proposals for a landmark site-specific structure harnessing renewable energy technology in the waterfront St Kilda Triangle area of the historic city.
The call for ideas, backed by the City of Port Phillip Council and the State of Victoria, is the latest to be held as part of the ongoing Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) which has hosted a similar contest every two years since 2008. This year’s theme focuses on ‘energy overlays’ with participants invited to respond to the council’s emerging masterplan for the 20,000m² area.
St Kilda Triangle
According to the brief: ‘Melbourne has a tradition of ambitious and creative public projects aimed towards advancing sustainable development, and the LAGI competition, which brings together multiple disciplines to take on complex problems, is a perfect fit for this vibrant city of arts and culture. Every two years, the Land Art Generator presents a new design challenge to the world through our open-call competition.
‘We ask you to think about our relationship to energy, the design of renewable energy power plants, and how they can be considered culturally as works of art in public space. In 2018 we are excited to share with you a new kind of typology for the LAGI 2018 Melbourne design competition: Energy Overlays—the superimposition of energy and art onto an emerging master plan for urban regeneration.’
Founded in 1835, Melbourne is the state capital of Victoria and the second most populous city in Australia. The city, which is home to 4.7 million people, is thought to be one of the most sustainable in the world and is targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2020.
St Kilda is a coastal suburb a short distance from central Melbourne with excellent transport connections to the wider city. The competition focuses on a large waterfront plot known as the St Kilda Triangle next to the Palais Theatre and Luna Park amusement attraction.
St Kilda Triangle
LAGI was launched in 2008 as a platform for designing and constructing new large-scale public art installations that generate clean energy. Previous contests have focussed on sites in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, New York, Copenhagen, and Santa Monica.
The latest call for ideas aims to identify solutions for a new landmark public art piece which responds to the St Kilda Triangle’s surrounding context and the wider area’s emerging regeneration masterplan while also harnessing renewable energy.
Submissions should include three A1-sized boards featuring conceptual images along with a 1,200-word written description. Judges include 3XN Architects founder and creative director Kim Herforth Nielsen; David Brand, City of Port Phillip councillor; and Victorian Government Architect Jill Garner.
The overall winner, due to notified in July, will receive a USD $16,000 and a second prize of $5,000 will also be awarded. Both winners will be invited to Melbourne for an award ceremony and exhibition opening event.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 6 May
Visit the competition website for more information
Solar Hourglass case study: Q&A with Santiago Muros Cortés
The winner of the 2014 LAGI competition in Copenhagen discusses lessons learned designing the winning entry
Santiago Muros Cortés
How did your Solar Hourglass project propose an innovative new sustainable infrastructure for Copenhagen?
Symbolism plays an intrinsic role in the process of designing this work of public art. The very shape of the hourglass, which is evoked in order to remind us of the importance of addressing climate change as soon as possible, tackles the technical challenges of the thermal beam down technology, both formally and functionally. The project not only serves the community by providing clean renewable energy to more than 3,000 homes, it also works as a public space that aims to educate the community through a subtle and yet memorable message: we still have time to make things right environmentally.
Solar Hourglass by Santiago Muros Cortés
Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?
The project harnesses the defining characteristics of the thermal beam down technology adapting it to a highly recognisable symbol in order to produce a spectacular visual and conceptual statement. The upper bulb of the hourglass contains an array of mirrors that concentrates the solar heat onto one point and then redirects it down towards the receiver hidden in the lower bulb along with the batteries and power distribution components, resulting in a highly functional use of the form.
Solar Hourglass by Santiago Muros Cortés
What advice would you have to contest participants on designing entries for the latest contest in Melbourne?
Be original without neglecting realism and potential practical materialisation of your design. Make something memorable and yet subtle. Remember you are not designing for yourself but for an entire community … and keep close track of the message you’re attempting to transmit with your design.
Solar Hourglass by Santiago Muros Cortés
Q&A with Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry
The founding directors of LAGI discuss their ambitions for the contest
Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry
Why are your holding a contest for a new clean energy landscape in Melbourne?
When we founded LAGI in the fall of 2008 we wanted to present new ways of thinking about the design of renewable energy infrastructure, partially as a response to the not-in-my-backyard public reaction to some proposed installations, and partially as a way to instill a sense of excitement and inspiration in the public imagination about how beautiful our post-carbon cities can be. To bring forward the greatest innovations, we decided to invite the entire world to participate in the conversation through an open-call design competition.
Since that time we’ve been holding international design competitions in a different city every two years for renewable energy power plants conceived of as public art. Bringing LAGI to Melbourne—a city that sets a high bar for both art and sustainability—was the perfect conceptual fit. Through the leadership of the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP), Victoria is setting an example for the world with a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050. Melbourne, already one of the most sustainable cities in the world, is targeting net-zero by 2020.
The design community’s part in our global response to climate change cannot be understated. On one hand, the post-carbon city of the future will be defined by the prevalence of energy harvesting and generation infrastructures and this will impact our cities in ways not seen since the advent of the automobile. It’s important that there be a professional forum in which the exchange of innovative ideas can help to inspire the direction our sustainable and resilient cities will take. And the built environment is directly responsible for a large percentage of the world’s greenhouse gas pollution. Designing all new public spaces as culturally relevant and net-energy positive is a way to bring about a post-carbon future that is both equitable and thriving.
What is your vision for the new public artwork?
The theme of LAGI 2018 Melbourne is Energy Overlays. St Kilda Triangle has been studied quite extensively and the City of Port Phillip has been engaged in a co-design process with the community that has resulted in a Council-approved master-planning document. The LAGI 2018 participating teams are referencing that master plan along with the design guidelines and other supporting documents. While it sets out a clear vision for overall site programming, the masterplan is still conceptual, and is a great foundation onto which to freely imagine.
To learn more about the specific design parameters of St Kilda Triangle and the LAGI 2018 boundary along the Foreshore, take a look at the LAGI 2018 design brief.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The great energy transition is urgent and we need all hands on deck! We love to see submissions from a broad range of practices—both emerging and well established.
The power of an open-call design and international competition is the wide array of ideas that it brings forward to a single challenge. We believe that good ideas can come from anywhere. That is why the biennial LAGI design competition is free to enter and there are no restrictions on team makeup or qualifications. While major firms such as AECOM, CallisonRTKL, Sage and Coombe, and M-Rad have put forward incredibly sophisticated proposals, we find similarly thought-provoking work comes from university studios that devote much of their semester to the challenge.
Like all of our international design competitions, there are a variety of benefits to participants beyond just the cash prize award. For LAGI 2018 Melbourne, there is a desire expressed by the State of Victoria and the City of Port Phillip that the best ideas should go forward to a second stage design competition and be integrated into the co-design process and site implementation. Fifty of the proposals will be featured in this year’s hardbound publication with HIRMER Publishing, the 25 shortlisted projects will be featured in multiple exhibitions, including at Fed Square and RMIT design hub in Melbourne, and the top two teams will have a representative flown to the award ceremony in October 2018.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
In addition to the biennial open call competition, LAGI facilitates many other invited competitions, requests for proposals, participatory design for community energy projects, and other design delivery and public engagement programs aimed at empowering people to design their own clean energy future. For example, this spring we’ll be conducting a community design workshop in Williamson West Virginia to imagine a reclaimed strip mine as a clean energy landscape, and we’ll see the design results of the LAGI Willimantic invited design competition, which will be moving forward to construction. To stay up to date on our opportunities, visit our website and sign up for our newsletter and social media feeds.
Are there any other similar renewable energy infrastructure projects you have been impressed by?
We love to see any creative project where the integration of renewable energy technology is a primary focus and a form-driver of the design process. Some projects that we’ve followed on our blog over the years include Airway by Vicki Scuri in El Paso, TX; Greeting to the Sun by Nikola Bašić in Croatia; SunFlowers by Harries & Héder Public Art Team in Austin TX; and the PV stained glasswork by Sarah Hall. Outside of energy, there are a lot of great examples of art integrated into water treatment and other infrastructures, like Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s Spittelau waste incineration plant in Vienna. There really aren’t enough good examples of this kind of regenerative design in public space, but we hope that in the future every city will be at least partially powered by art!