Urban Oasis is a 12m-tall kinetic structure that mimics the design of a growing flower. Its photovoltaic “petals” open and close in response to the sun and the moon utilising light to generate power. This is supplemented by a hydrogen fuel cell and wind turbine to make it self-sufficient. It even uses rainwater it has collected for irrigation and cooling.
The design is a practical compromise between aesthetic and sustainable principles, the elements of which can be developed in the future. The “branches” of the tree, dressed with photovoltaics, open and close with the sun and collect rain to feed a planted garden at the base of the structure. Its “trunk” is a thermal chimney that creates a cooling effect around its base.
Urban Oasis has been located in Clerkenwell in London, Manchester, Brindleyplace in Birmingham, Cannes in France and at the Chelsea Flower Show. The structure is currently under renovation.
Sustainable light sculpture
At night the entire structure is transformed into a light sculpture. 350 strands of broken glass light-emitting fibres are carefully threaded through the water zone to create a light stream.
Colour-changing fibres are hand crafted as intertwining vines, while a matrix of 40 LEDs spirals up the trunk to generate lightning pulses which interact with people passing by. As the branches close at the end of each day, the entire structure is bathed in an ultraviolet light finale.
At the base of the trunk are five pods which provide individual tranquil spaces. Filtered air is supplied to the pods, which contain acoustic foam at head level to protect the occupant from external noise. Colour changing lights, sounds and images are streamed into the pod when is senses it is occupied.
Vertical-axis wind turbines are ideal for integration into urban environments; this turbine demonstrates the aesthetic potential. Energy generation is dependant on location. The benefits of a larger (and heavier) turbine would be realised on a more exposed site.
New-generation thin-film photovoltaic technology is used for its flexibility, light weight and glass-free properties. Energy is generated from daylight and used to charge the batteries. This demonstrates the potential for incorporation with many building materials and profiles.
Urban Oasis fuel cell technology
The fuel cell is being developed to operate using a number of biofuels; including biomethanol, bioethanol and biodiesel. This allows a non-polluting and sustainable energy system to be realised.
The battery bank has the potential to operate without maintenance for several years. At the end of its lifespan 95% of the battery material will be recyclable.
The transparent body promotes heat generation which can draw air through the pools to create an upward cooling effect. The potential for electricity generation is demonstrated as the warm air combines with natural wind to assist the rotation of the wind turbine.
The branches are profiles to funnel rainwater to a lower storage tank. This can be used for irrigation and water features. Water is also stored to demonstrate its potential as a thermal mass for warming and cooling applications.
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