POSTED: May 10th 2010

Environmental solar waterfall could enhance Olympics or World Cup events

Gigantic solar powered waterfall towers over the seascape (click to enlarge)/ Image: RAFAA Design
Gigantic solar powered waterfall towers over the seascape (click to enlarge)/ Image: RAFAA Design

The Solar City Tower which resembles an urban waterfall would dominantly rise over the city like Corcovado (click to enlarge) / Image: RAFAA Design
The Solar City Tower which resembles an urban waterfall would dominantly rise over the city like Corcovado (click to enlarge) / Image: RAFAA Design

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA, May 10: The giant waterfall pictured here is really a disguise for a huge solar power plant that could produce energy for an Olympic Village or even a World Cup city. A Zurich-based design firm has conceived this statuesque pinnacle that can be seen looming over a Rio de Janeiro island which is not only amazing to look at but could take environmental conservation for big events to a whole new level.

Rafael Schmidt, director of RAFAA Design, explained the concept behind the multi-purpose venue that could even house a cafeteria, the Olympic flame, an amphitheatre, auditorium, shops and even a bungee jump area just in case visitors felt the need for some over the top exercise.

The concept has been submitted for the Rio 2016 Games consideration however the plan would work in many other cities and could also be developed for other future Olympic or World Cup cities. Not just a beautiful skyrise it is an environmental structure and makes a strong statement.

Schmidt said: “The project under consideration should be located in the bay of the city of Rio de Janeiro on the Cotonduba Island, which is the obligatory approach for aircraft landing and will comprise a vertical structure which will seek to become a symbol for those arriving in Rio, creating an image potent enough to enable Rio to triumph in its bid to host the summer Olympics in 2016.

“The challenge, therefore, consists of designing an observation tower which will become a symbol welcoming all those who visit Rio de Janeiro, whether they arrive by air or sea.”

The project consists of a solar power plant that by day produces energy for the city or respectively the Olympic Village. Excessive energy will be pumped as sea water into a tower.

By night, the water can be released again; with the help of turbines, it generates electricity for the evening hours. The electricity produced can be used for the lighting of the tower or channeled off for the city. On special occasions, this “machine building” turns into an impressive wonder of nature: an urban waterfall, a symbol for the forces of nature.

At the same time, it will be the representation of a collective awareness of the city towards its great surrounding landscape - and adds an enhanced feature with a purpose for spectacular panoramic televising of the events.

"The aim of this project is to ask how the classic concept of a landmark can be reconsidered," added Schmidt. "It is less about an expressive, iconic architectural form; rather, it is a return to content and actual, real challenges for the imminent post-oil-era.

“This project represents a message of a society facing the future; thus, it is the representation of an inner attitude. Our project, standing in the tradition of “a building/city as a machine”

Multi-purpose venue

Viewers gain access to the building via an urban plaza 60 meters above sea level then they can progress through the amphitheatre to reach the ground-floor entrance.

Both the entrance area and amphitheatre can serve as a place for social gatherings and VIP events. The public spaces are also accessible from this point on. The cafeteria and the shop are situated beneath the waterfall and offer a breathtaking view of the surroundings.

Visitors can also access the observation decks and top balcony through public elevators. Administrative offices can be reached directly from the foyer and have their own accesses and a semi-public elevator.

On a level 90.5m above sea level a retractable bungee platform could be utilized and then visitors could go up further to the 98m above sea level for an observation deck. There is an “urban balcony” at the top at 105m above sea level where visitors have a 360° view of the city and can experience the crashing waterfall over a glass sky walk.

RAFAA Design has conceived the idea - now it is looking for an Olympic or World Cup partner to make it happen. Initial costs are estimated at US$60-80m depending on the location, logistics and materials.

Keywords · RAFAA design · Rio 2016 · Rafael Schmidt · World Cup · solar power

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

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