For a kid, a lifesize light-up spinning top that you can play in right in your neighborhood sounds like a dream come true -- and such is the case in Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
The Energy Carousel by Madrid-based firm Ecosistema Urbano is a play structure that is both engaging and educational. As kids grab onto one of the structure's hanging ropes, the kinetic energy released by their movements is stored in a battery, which later serves as supply to light up the structure at night. The carousel's LED lights shine in various colors depending on how much energy was stored during that day.
The Energy Carousel was one of the winning designs in a 2010 invited competition by Carve, an Amsterdam design group that specializes in developing and engineering public spaces for children. Carve asked 10 European firms to design a multi-age sustainable "unconventional play object" to complete the Governeursplein public square in Dordrecht.
Since then, it seems the Energy Carousel has provided whirls of fun for all. Read on for more project details:
"As 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 that is released by the children’s hanging and turning on the ropes is captured via 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."
"Ecosistema Urbano has designed this play structure with two particular focuses in mind. The first is to promote education through play, teaching children about alternative methods for generating electrical power with their own physical experiences. Second, was to use efficient materials that also serve to highlight the project’s unique design. The LED lights 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 fabric protects children against rain and bright sunlight, and boasts a swirl pattern to accent the movement-to-energy potential of the structure."
"We believe that through projects that emphasize the ecological pedagogy, we can send to the next generation of citizens a subtle message about the potential for creative and a more sustainable approach to urban design. Apart from all that, it has not only a powerful market potential in different fields regarding playgrounds, recreation and education, but it also appears as an attractive support to several products and energy production systems. This real prototype already built in the city of Dordrecht, Netherlands, is proving its success there or at any other city."
Project: Ecosistema Urbano architects (Belinda Tato + Jose Luis Vallejo)
Design team: Jaime Eizaguirre, Luisa Zancada, Johannes Kettler, Masatoshi Oka, Francesco Cingolani.
Energy Engineering: Roberto Suarez, AST engineering.
Masterplan Governeursplein + curatorial work + on site supervision: Elger Blitz, carve.nl Structural Engineering: Alejandra Albuerne. Lighting consultant: Juan Jose García, Targetti Group.
Textile consultants: Javier Tejera / Marian Marco, Bat spain.
Click the thumbnails below to see more images.