The Centre for Visual Arts in the city of Dordrecht in The Netherlands, in cooperation with the Amsterdam design bureau Carve, invited 10 European design firms to develop inventive, resourceful and multi-age friendly playful objects to complete the design for a new public space in that city.
Ecosistema Urbano’s “Energy Carousel” was one of the winning proposals chosen to be implemented. The energy-harvesting playground equipment features a “forest” of revolving rope swings that hang at different lengths; the hanging rope seats towards the center of the structure accommodate smaller, younger children, while taller, older children may grab onto the shorter ropes on the outside.
The kinetic energy released by the children’s activity is captured via the carousel structure and stored in a battery underneath the play site. When the park begins to lose light, the carousel’s battery supplies energy to light up the structure. When the speed of play increases, the lamps will light up brighter. The colour of the lights also changes according to how much energy has been generated by the children on any particular day.
The result is a colorful and fun addition to the city’s public area, which also teaches children about more sustainable energy possibilities.
Ecosistema Urbano designed the play structure with two particular focuses in mind: to promote education through play, teaching children about alternative methods for generating electrical power with their own physical experiences, and to use efficient materials that also serve to highlight the project’s unique design.
The LED lights in the carousel use a minimal amount of energy. The structure, unlike most play structures, uses a limited amount of steel. Its body is instead a tensegrity structure formed with ropes and textiles. The textile roof protects children against rain and bright sunlight, and boasts a swirl pattern to accent the movement-to-energy potential of the structure.
- Ecosistema Urbano, Spain (Architects Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo)
- Design team
- Jaime Eizaguirre, Luisa Zancada, Johannes Kettler, Masatoshi Oka and Francesco Cingolani.
- Textile consultants
- Javier Tejera and Marian Marco, Bat (Spain)