Feeling the Energy Park / Carlo Ratti Associati + Italo Rota

Feeling the Energy Park / Carlo Ratti Associati + Italo Rota

© Marco Beck Peccoz

© Marco Beck Peccoz© Marco Beck Peccoz© Marco Beck Peccoz© Marco Beck Peccoz+ 16

© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz

Text description provided by the architects. During Milan Design Week 2022, the international design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and the architect Italo Rota unveil a project that transforms the city’s botanical garden into an energy park. “Feeling the Energy” uses 500 meters of digitally bent copper pipes to create a sensory journey where people can explore different forms of sustainable energy production and consumption. The project is developed for Plénitude as part of INTERNI Re at Design Week. Generation exhibition. The copper is supplied by KME, one of the world’s largest producers of this material. “Feeling the Energy” will be open to the public until June 13, 2022.

© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz

The installation invites people to stroll through Milan’s historic Botanical Garden, in a sequence of six main stages: Energy Carousel, Garden Orchestra, The Leading Logo, Powering Vibrations, Blinds in the Sun and Solar Garden. These make it possible to directly discover how energy can be produced from the sun, the wind and the movements of people. Each step has a different object, all made of copper. The installation harvests and stores energy during the day, using it to light the Botanical Garden in the evening. It also powers water sprayers that will refresh garden paths while nourishing vegetation.

© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz

Visitors enter the Botanical Garden and immediately discover a majestic merry-go-round where they can experience the energy in motion. After that, people can pass under a series of portals that play sequences from Italian Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons Symphony, performed by the Milan Symphony Orchestra’s Ensemble Strumentale la Barocca. The exhibition route also includes a giant vibraphone which the public is invited to play. Additionally, a tunnel with colored diaphragms loaded with organic photovoltaic panels can be opened or closed by those who walk through it, while a canopy is equipped with sensors capable of detecting the presence of people and activating a cool mist .

© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz

“The installation is inspired by the functioning of plant organisms” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab: “As the trees in a forest draw their energy from different sources and then use it locally where they need it – in a certain branch or at the end of a leaf – the long copper tube of ‘Feeling the Energy’ absorbs energy along its entire length and then uses it at specific points in the installation path.

“Playing is a fundamental activity for every human being. This installation suggests new links between play and the world of energy. It shows us that every time we consume energy – whether on a merry-go-round or a swing, or even by producing sound waves – we can recover some of this energy. In addition, the installation closely evokes the theme of efficiency. A simple gesture such as directing the photovoltaic panels allows us to think concretely saving and optimizing resources.” says Italo Rota, founder of Italo Rota Building Office.

© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz

The Plénitude project illustrates what a self-sufficient energy infrastructure looks like, where discrete points are connected in a microgrid. The installation reproduces, on a small scale, what happens with urban, national and even transcontinental energy networks: complex distribution channels are able to connect and supply each node over a long distance. Additionally, the copper tubing exhibits antimicrobial properties, which are particularly beneficial in enabling safe contact between visitors joining the experience. The same material will be reused at the end of the event, following the principles of circular design.

© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz

CRA has explored the natural and the man-made as well as the production of energy at different scales, in a variety of projects. These include Cloud Cast, a system that uses motion tracking and ceiling-mounted misting elements to provide localized cooling, and The Greenary, a private home built around a 10-meter-tall ficus tree in northern Italy. At previous Design Week exhibitions, CRA has developed temporary installations that use technology to design alternative sustainable futures. For example, Living Nature, in Milan’s main square, Piazza del Duomo, has recreated a garden pavilion where the four seasons coexist at the same time, thanks to an innovative energy management system for climate control.

© Marco Beck Peccoz
© Marco Beck Peccoz

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