Large Solar installations

By Rolando Graterol

A swedish architect and urban visionary has shared with a popular architectural website his project for large solar (within the city) installations. He proposes additions to the existing motorways of Los Angeles to transform them into solar panel infrastructures.

His project explores how architectural design could change both the function and the narrative of motorways around the world. Even though LA provided a special inspiration to the project, the idea is applicable all over the world.

In the cities of today, water and energy sources usually come from somewhere kms away. In LA the abundance of sun, just like most of Australia, sparked the recent LA Solar Program signed by city Mayor.

The LA Solar Program focus on incentives for installations on roofs of private homes and on public buildings and parking lots within the city.

Another important part of the Solar Program seeks to minimise the creation of energy resources outside or far away from cities, but why not instead build locally! LA is a good example with around 800 km of freeways - why not use some of them for the location of large scale solar installation? Local energy production, right in the middle of the city for minimal transmission losses and consumption.


Modern lifestyle has made the car lane the main public space and also a very large portion of the public owned and maintained land and structure within the city. The architect's idea is to diversify their use to improve the quality of the people who live around it.

Solar panels need unshaded sun, which makes motorways the ideal sites with their big clearing areas. Mounted above the road, this roof structure will also provide shade that would decrease the use of vehicles air conditioning on sunny days. This idea would also minimise large part of the noise pollution these roads create. But also: The high cost of UV degradation of paved roadway surfaces would decrease drastically.


Another way to look at energy production is the extraordinary high levels of CO2 around the Motorway. The levels are sufficient for large scales industrial algae production. The CO2 rich air is brought through pipes (reducing air pollution) into linear covered algae ponds along the motorway. This would bring green tech jobs for farming, harvesting and processing to the very neighbourhoods that today are the most disadvantaged by their proximity to these roadways.

The motorway system is in desperate need of a new innovative improvement. The Solar Serpent, as the architects calls it, would give the motorway a radically different and bold presence in the city.

This proposal is an architectural design that does not shy away from the monumental impact that these roads have on the cityscape but instead add new functions and visible layers that are consistent with the energy and sustainability needs of today.

1 comment for “Large Solar installations”

Posted Monday, April 9, 2012 at 5:05:44 PM

Solar cells themselves have become bigger and more powerful as well. Only in very recent yeasr has photovolatics gained wide popularity as an alternative way to produce electricity.

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