Masdar City eco-art contest’s winning project to be built in Abu Dhabi’s sister city

20 Jul 2023

2 mins


Abu Dhabi, 20 July 2023 – A massive energy-generating public artwork that won a Masdar City-sponsored competition in 2019 is being built in Houston, Texas, known as Abu Dhabi’s sister city.

The regenerative and permanent sculptural installation by Berlin-based artist and architect Ricardo Mariano is called Arco del Tiempo (Arch of Time) and takes the form of a 100-foot-tall triumphal arch that will serve as a gateway to Houston’s East End neighborhood.

The interactive time-measuring device traces the path of the sun across the sky by beaming light onto the ground through geometric openings that correspond to Houston’s seasons, latitude, and longitude. It will generate approximately 400,000 kilowatt-hours of solar electricity each year through solar modules incorporated into the south-facing exterior of the sculpture.

Marino’s creation was featured during the 2019 edition of the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) design competition, which encourages renewable energy innovation through creative art. Sponsored and held in partnership with Masdar City, the competition received 65 submissions that year.

“It was a pleasure to be part of the LAGI competition in 2019, and we’re very excited to be seeing the winning entry come to life—particularly in Abu Dhabi’s sister city,” said Chris Wan, the associate director of sustainability and corporate social responsibility at Masdar City. “We know that public art plays a significant role in the fabric of a city, and Arco del Tiempo is so much more than public art: it will also educate the public about sustainability while celebrating and advocating for it. It’s a powerful combination. I hope to see more art like it in the cities of the future.”

Elizabeth Monoian, the founding co-director of the Land Art Generator Initiative, said, “Over its lifetime, the artwork will generate more than 12 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy—the equivalent of removing 8,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Through the clean energy it produces, Arco del Tiempo will pay back its embodied carbon footprint. In other words, all the energy that went into its making—from the smelting of the steel to the drilling that puts the final cladding into place—will be offset through the energy it generates.”

“The apparent movement of the sun in the sky activates the space with light and colors and engages viewers who participate in the creation of the work by their presence,” said Mariano. “It is a practical example to illustrate the movement of the earth around the sun in a playful way. Arco del Tiempo merges renewable energy generation with public space and into the everyday life of the Second Ward.”

The project is the culmination of many years of planning by the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing climate solutions through art and design that has held global design competitions since 2008. LAGI’s vision revolves around turning the climate conversation from a tone of despair to excitement by providing a platform for creative expression using solar modules and clean tech.


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