Design + Architecture

Cities of the Future

by Nicola McCormack

Solar Lily Pads, South Korea and Glasgow

Imagine replacing ugly power stations with delicate lily pads floating in our urban waterways. That's the nature-inspired vision of Scottish firm ZM Architecture, which plans to harness energy using circular solar panels floating in rivers, canals, and lakes. Bigger than your average lily pad, the panels will measure from 16 to 50 feet in diameter—the 32-foot model should provide enough energy to run a typical family house for a year. The Solar Lily Pad proposal won first prize at the International Design Awards Land and Sea competition in 2008; since then, the architects have been in discussions with Glasgow's city council to build a prototype on the River Clyde. However, negotiations are ongoing with South Korea to make the pads commercially, so we may see them in East Asia first. The only problem we can foresee is enormous basking frogs blocking the intake of sunlight.

Next: Ahead of the curve in Abu Dhabi ›

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