In a futuristic design envisioned by the South Korea-based Heerim Architects team, a giant orb seems to float just above the ocean in Santa Monica, reflecting the swooping span of the sky through the translucent glass of its top hemisphere, while the sharp sheen of the metallic lower half mirrors the movements of the waves. From the boardwalk, visitors are able to walk down a walled pathway until they reach an open square, lowered below sea-level just under the gleaming 40-meters-wide globe. However, this isn’t just an alluring art installation: it’s a finalist in the Land Art Generator Initiative’s biennial contest for works of public art that simultaneously promote sustainable energy infrastructures. Given California’s continuing water crisis, this year’s competition has invited proposals that produce drinking water along with clean electricity, and Heerim Architects’ concept, dubbed The Clear Orb, does just that.
That afore-mentioned transparent top surface is comprised of solar contractors, which provide power to circulate water into the orb. Inside, there’s a solar still that uses evaporation and condensation to create desalinated water, which then filters through a step fountain that supports the structure from below. On a 300-meter outer edge of the contemplation walk, an oscillating power plant produces supplementary energy that goes towards the city’s electrical grid. The walls’ inner facades, meanwhile, list extinct animals to encourage passersby to consider how humans and the natural world might coexist more cooperatively.
Technologically advanced and aesthetically alluring, The Clear Orb can provide up to a half-million gallons of fresh water every year while simultaneously delighting city-dwellers and shoreside visitors. It reminds viewers that it’s perfectly possible to support environmentally sustainable solutions in engaging and inventive ways.
All images via Heerim Architects/Land Art Generator Initiative.