The Olympics are a great opportunity to elevate your city to the world stage and create buildings that scream, “Look at me! Look at me!” Beijing pulled out all the stops with the Water Cube and the bird’s nest stadium. London didn’t go to quite such extreme lengths, but their shooting stadium is certainly bizarre.
The city of Rio de Janeiro will try to one-up both of these cities when it hosts the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games by building a gigantic, self-sufficient skyscraper waterfall. What is it about South America and skyscraper waterfalls, anyway? We’ve already heard about this waterfall zoo in Argentina. It’s like some sort of architectural fad.
Conceived by RAFAA Architecture & Design, an architectural firm based in Zurich, Switzherland, the self-sufficient Solar City Tower is supposed to act as a symbol that the world should push towards green energy. That’s the official purpose, but I think we all know that what they’re really trying to do is show off.
During the day, an enormous field of solar panels will collect energy that can power the facility, the Olympic village, and much of Rio. Any excess power will be used to suck water into a storage tank within the tower, which will be released at nighttime to power turbines. On special occasions, they will pump water over the top of the building to create a manmade waterfall that should be visible from the Rio coast.
I have to say that the design of this building is rather clever. Turning the waterfall on during special occasions allows the city to show off without wasting a tremendous amount of energy. Also, the Olympic Committe has received criticism for picking Rio de Janeiro as the host city for the next Summer Olympic Games because the city suffers from crippling poverty. Hopefully, Solar Tower City can provide locals with an affordable source of energy.
The great thing about the Solar City Tower is that the designers are aiming for long-term functionality. It will obviously be a focal point during the Olympic Games (I can already imagine helicopter footage of the waterfall), but after that it will continue to be a an invaluable part of the city. Much like the Marina Barrage I covered yesterday, the Solar City Tower will double as a public hot spot. Anybody can access the tower through an amphitheater situated 60 meters above sea level. Visitors can eat at the cafeteria or shop for souvenirs at the gift shop, or they could take an elevator ride to the top of the tower for a 360 degree view of the ocean. Some of the more adventurous tourists can strap on some bungee gear and leap off the side of the tower.
Here’s what I want to know: will they offer bungee jumping while the waterfall is active? Talk about your ultimate thrill ride.