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Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016
Posted: Friday, May 07, 2010 |

Olympic Games are always a terrific occasion to flex the architectural muscles beyond your every-day-joe-schmo assignment. For the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Swiss studio RAFAA flexed quite a bit and propose the competition entry “Solar City Tower” that—packed with solar panels and sustainable features—wants to help make Rio’s Olympic Games the first ever zero-carbon games.

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge
View to Cotunduba Island

From the brief of the international architecture competition: „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.“

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge
View from Copacabana

Here’s a detailed project description from RAFAA:

The aim of this project is to ask how the classic concept of a landmark can be reconsidered. 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”, shall provide energy both to the city of Rio de Janeiro and its citizens while using natural resources. We hope to attain an international Olympic message with a political appeal. After hosting the United Nation’s Earth Summit in 1992, Rio de Janeiro will once again be the starting point for a global green movement and for a sustainable development of urban structures.

It will perhaps even become a symbol for the first zero carbon footprint Olympic Games.

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge
View to Copacabana

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge
View from plane

The project consists of a solar power plant that by day produces energy for the city respectively the Olympic village. Excessive energy will be pumped as seawater into a tower. By night, the water can be released again; with the help of turbines, it generates electricity for the night. The electricity produced can be used for the lighting of the tower or 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. Via an urban plaza located 60 meters over sea level you gain access to the building. Through the amphitheatre, you reach the entrance situated on the ground floor.

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge
Night view of Olympic flame

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge
Observation deck

Both entrance area and amphitheatre can serve as a place for social gatherings and 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. The public elevator takes the visitor to the observation decks and the urban balcony. The administration offices can be reached directly from the foyer. Its inner circulation is organised by an own entrance and the elevator. The semi-public spaces are located in the back area of the building; thus, they can be used separately. A retractable platform for bungee jumping is located on level +90.5. Long distance observation can be done from the observation deck on level +98.0. The urban balcony is situated at the top of the tower 105 meters above sea level. Here the visitor has a 360° view of the landscape and can experience the waterfall while walking over the glass sky walk.

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

Click above image to enlarge
Floor plans

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics 2016 by rafaa

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Exploded perspective

Images: RAFAA

Friday, May 07, 2010
I had to read this a few times : so, you use electricity to pump water up in order to let in fall which in turn creates energy?

Friday, May 07, 2010
Excess electricity. The seawater is pumped upwards as a way of converting the solar energy into potential energy and storing it, to be released at night, when there is no solar energy. Similar to the way solar panels can be used for electrolysis of water, storing the hydrogen and oxygen separately to be combined later, creating electricity. Or a more simple example, recharging batteries.

Saturday, May 08, 2010
how can you use the energy if thousands of litres are lost on the waterfall outside the building while the turbines that produce energy are inside it?

Saturday, May 08, 2010
Eliassons project was consuming (a lot of) energy and was only an show-piece of art....

Monday, May 10, 2010
Really strage!
ok, the idea is not new and used for BIG storage power stations (beside atom power), but how do they want to produce energy with such little storage rooms. they will be empty after 5 minutes having the show waterfall (over the solar pannels?!?!?!)...
and how will fit salt water and concrete together???

Monday, May 10, 2010
This way of storing energy (using it to pump water up a reservoir or dam for it to be dropped later to create hydro electricity) is not new. Spain is using it a lot to store the excess of wind-generated power as a way of, practically, storing wind power.
I'm more wary about the fact of how effectively is the sun power going to be harnessed in the building. FV panels are awfully inefficient, especially if not tilted at the right angle with the sun.
Nice idea though, nice graphics.

Saturday, May 15, 2010
Fancy, though ugly, non-resemblance building. Look at the second picture and see how it disturbs the beautiful scenic view of see and vegetated mountains.

Saturday, May 15, 2010
The structure does not match or blend with the enviornment, it really pain ful to see that when the whole world is trying to save energy as much this project is consuming a lot energy

Monday, May 17, 2010
Am curious over how much solar energy can be harnessed with the waterfall covering half of the building facade as illustrated in the perspective when the waterfall occurs in the day, and in the illustration with the building half shrouded in clouds.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I have just returned from a trip of Latin America and went to Rio and up the mountain to see the revered and much talked about statue the REDEEMER. The view from the hill top is Majestic and panoramic. But the statue itself is a question mark. And it was being upgraded or redeemed for the event with a lot of scaffolding etc;
To add another technological wonder of the age to this space is well amusing.
Have fun while it lasts is all I can say.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The falling water will wash and erode all coast:)
It will ruin beautiful island. I understand that the area has thousands of islands, but this one is really close to the city, so at the end you will have big piece of concrete and ruinned island....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I just loved.
It is amazing the creativity that God
gave to human being!

3 Rios R . J Brasil
Sunday, September 26, 2010
This Island Is Protect. It's A Natural Reserve.

Três Rios R. J Brasil
Sunday, September 26, 2010
The Rio Islands Are Protect. This Project Never Will Be Accept .

Czech Republic
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The first thing it came to my mind: erosion! But the idea sounds terrific.

Friday, November 26, 2010
please save mother earth by not allowing this to happen.it will absolutely destroy its nearby city on the future.it is too good to be true but i have to say the idea is terrific!

im glad im from pinas!

misss you babe!

Monday, January 24, 2011
Won't large amounts of wind blow straight into the tower itself - which will also disperse the water?

Colorado, USA
Friday, February 25, 2011
Even if it doesn't generate much electricity it makes up for it by its controversy...!

Monday, April 11, 2011
Can they not use the money to feed the poorer people there?

santa cruz
Friday, November 11, 2011
How come nobody says the obvious, its Butt Ugly. When compared to nature that thing is a stick in the eye. Come on people, build something that blends...make that a creative effort.

Monday, August 13, 2012
Someone explain to me how building a massive structure which uses electricity to create a waterfall while being constructed on an otherwise non-inhabited island... is zero carbon?

Wouldn't it be more impressive to have the LEAST impact on the existing environment, rather than altering it for something that only lasts 2 weeks?

Danny Christian
Cebu City, Philippines
Monday, August 19, 2013
I kind of have the same questions as Kevin. But I guess it all hinges upon what will be done with this after the games are completed.

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