Environmental design is becoming more and more relevant as we feel the effects of climate change on our planet. Artists, architects, and other designers are finding new ways to consider the impact of their work and to design less intrusively. Burning Man is a well-known community focused on art and self-expression, so it is no surprise that even here, environmental awareness is entering creative discussions. Mumbai architecture firm NUDES has designed Solar Mountain, one of 10 shortlisted proposals for LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch. Their design is a permanent installation on Burning Man’s 3,800-acre ranch that would produce 300 MWH of electricity annually.
The design features an array of solar panels fanning out from a central spine. The architects explain that this form was inspired by the natural landscape of Fly Ranch. NUDES believed that this dynamic curving form would fit in as another feature in the diverse landscape of wetlands, geysers, and hot and cold springs. The construction is planned with modular design elements of recycled wood and environmentally friendly materials. It is made up of four units, each with 182 solar panels of 300-watt capacity. With each unit’s daily generation potential, Solar Mountain would produce an estimated 318,645 kWh every year.
Solar Mountain is not just an interesting solar park to create renewable energy, though—it doubles as an interactive installation and community center for the participants of Burning Man. “The narrative behind the design is divided into three parts: grow energy, interact, and play,” explains Nuru Karim, founder and principal of NUDES.
As the solar panels fan out from the central spine, they create a semi-covered walkway for visitors that is enhanced by interesting light patterns cast by the strips of panels above. Since the project was shortlisted and will move forward to another stage of design, we may soon learn of interesting building programs that could be included in the futuristic solar farm.