Milan Energy Park Taps into Potential of Energy in Motion
The 500-meter installation in the energy park consists of six main stages that enable visitors to directly experience energy transformation from the sun, wind, and people’s movements
Italian studio Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) and architect Italo Rota have recently unveiled the Feeling the Energy project. This new project transforms Botanical Garden in Milan into an energy park with 500 meters of digitally bent copper pipe. This project aims to explore various forms of sustainable energy production and consumption.
Created for Plenitude (Eni), this project was showcased during Milan Design Week 2022 in June. The installation invited visitors to wander through Milan’s Botanical Garden in a sequence of six major stages. These stages include Energy Carousel, The Leading Logo, Garden Orchestra, Powering Vibrations, Solar Garden, and Blinds in the Sun. These various stages let people directly experience energy in motion while harvesting it from the sun, people’s movements, and wind.
Each stage boasts a distinct shape made of copper. The installation intends to harvest and store energy in the daytime and utilize it in the evening to illuminate the historical Botanical Garden. It powers water vaporizers to cool down the garden pathways while nourishing vegetation at the same time.
While walking through a series of portals, people get to listen to the popular Four Seasons symphony that’s composed by Antonio Vivaldi and performed by the Ensemble Strumentale la Barocca of the Symphony Orchestra of Milan. Furthermore, there is a tunnel featuring colored diaphragms laden with organic photovoltaic panels. These panels can open or close as one wanders through them. The canopy also integrates the sensors to detect people’s presence while activating a cool-mist for localized cooling.
According to Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, the installation in this energy park takes its cue from the functioning of plant organisms. Just like the trees in a forest derive their energy from various sources and further use it locally wherever needed, the long copper pipe of ‘Feeling the Energy’ also absorbs energy throughout its entire length. This installation uses the consumed energy at specific points of its installation path.
This installation shows new links between the world of energy and play. It indicates that every time people consume energy – be it via sound waves or on a carousel or swing – it’s possible to recover some energy. Hence, this installation hints at energy efficiency. With the orientation of the photovoltaic panels within the installation, you can think practically about saving and optimizing various resources.
Overall, this project illustrates a self-sufficient energy infrastructure, which connects discrete points in a microgrid. Moreover, the copper pipe boasts antimicrobial properties, which help enable safe contact between visitors exploring the energy park.
It’s amazing how CRA managed to explore the natural and the artificial along with the energy production at different scales. While the installation in Milan’s Botanical Garden generates energy on a small scale, imagine what wonders it would create if production started on a large scale. It also gives us a sense of how daily life objects can become potential tools to generate sustainable and renewable energy.