Solar Serpents in Paradise by Mans Tham ArchitectMarch 2nd, 2014 - Posted in Architecture
This project explores how architectural design could change both the function and the narrative of the most symbolic structure of modern society: the freeway. The Solar Serpents would be connected to the grid and the energy produced would be instantly sucked up locally with no transmission costs or losses.
The panels can be produced, used and recycled in the same city thus benefiting the local economy at all stages in the life of the urban solar power plant. The cost for this project is compared to many other power plants rather predictable. The roads themselves will be less exposed to UV degradation and the cost of gas/electricity for AC will be reduced for the people driving in the solar serpent.
Solar panels need unshaded sun which makes freeways with their big clearing an ideal site. Mounted above a road they also provide shade that would decrease the use of air conditioning on sunny days. And also: The high cost of UV degradation of paved freeway surfaces would decrease and noise will go down for the people living next to the freeway.
This project was worked on the 24 kilometer long stretch of the Santa Monica freeway between downtown and the beach. On average it is 40 m wide. This gives us a paved surface of 10 million square feet.The Solar Serpent would give the freeway a radically different and bold presence in the city. Recharging stations along it clearly explains the connection between production and usage.