A few weeks ago, an e-mail started circulating about the Solar City Tower that would be erected on the island of Cotonduba, at the entrance of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
The design for the tower was by a Zurich-based architecture firm, called RAFAA. On hearing about the e-mail, RAFAA quickly issued a statement indicating that the e-mail was misleading and that the design was nothing but a proposal it had submitted for a competition in 2009. In the statement, RAFAA also said the design was at an initial stage, with no guarantee of being translated to reality. The firm added that it had encountered technical hurdles; in addition, it said it had not arrived at an estimation of the energy consumption of the structure.
The purpose of writing this is not to pat the architecture firm for its honesty, which it richly deserves. No, no, the purpose is to marvel at the possibility of such an innovative structure.
According to the e-mail, the Solar City Tower would capture solar energy by means of a vast array of solar panels and supply power to the whole of the Olympic city and to a part of Rio. In the night, the e-mail said, the tower would pump water from the ocean, which would be allowed to fall from a height of 105 metres. According to the e-mail, the fall would stimulate turbines, which would produce power.
‘Zero carbon foot print’ immediately comes to mind, and when viewed from that perspective, the design-proposal has to be lauded for the simplicity of its conception, elegance and intent. It stands as an example of daring and free-thinking – and a willingness to try a novel approach, without any fear of failure. It embodies Einstein’s famous line, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
The world – our region including – needs free-thinking and daring, especially at a time when it is facing massive challenges related to the availability of power and water. As RAFAA wrote in its design proposal, “This project represents a message of a society facing the future; thus, it is the representation of an inner attitude.” Well said!
- B Surendar