ST KILDA’S VEIL
proposal for energy generator
ST KILDA’S VEIL
BOHEMIAN WIND CURTAIN
2018, SUBMISSION FOR LAND ART GENERATOR INITIATIVE COMPETITION
ST KILDA, MELBOURNE
HISTORY OF ST KILDA – A CATALYST
The starting point of the scheme is framing the question of how energy generation infrastructure can be embedded into the unique locality of St Kilda, its history, culture and place. To start the research about history of St Kilda beginning with the traditional owners of the Bunurong people and in particular the St Kilda Corroboree Tree or ‘Ngargee’ red gum tree that predates the European settlement. The tree is one of the oldest living things in Melbourne, though to be between 300 – 500 years old and serves as an important cultural meeting location for the Bunurong people and for the annual corroboree dreamtime ceremony.
Subsequently the name St Kilda for the neighbourhood is named in 1841 after a ship that moored on the beach on the same year. Even in the early maritime history the sight of the St Kilda beach is a view to be reckoned prior to the arrival to Port Melbourne. Very quickly the location became a favoured location for the wealthy to move in for the proximity to the beach and soon the delta wetlands landscape is developed into a neighbourhood of exquisite Victorian and Edwardian mansions including the Esplanade Hotel overlooking the beach. This is expedited with the construction of tramlines along the bay that stops at the triangle site nominated.
It was not until the Great Depression that St Kilda began to decline with the seashore becoming the popular entertainment and red light district for the working classes. The wealthy moved out and thus began the bohemian culture for St Kilda. This is vividly denoted by the construction of Luna Park and Palais Theatre by Carlo Catani. It should also be worth mentioning that St Kilda became a focus of Melbourne’s social issues including prostitution and drug abuse during this era while the bohemian arts and culture grew. Compared to Brighton Beach, the bohemian St Kilda is rather known for its calmer seas – hence the mooring point for sailing boats at the pier that sits in front of the skyline of Melbourne today.
WIND ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Compared to other states in Australia, Victoria is less known for its sunny days but rather the gusting winds. With the maritime history of St Kilda from the marooned schonner to the landscape of the sails over the skyline, it felt appropriate to harness the energy of the wind and to store them into battery packs to increase reliability. Rather than being individual turbines dotting over the landscape, a long veil-like structure echoing the linear nature of the bay and the tramline is carefully placed along the site avoiding trees and other suspended infrastructures. The veil is envisioned as a semi-transparent tapestry that gradually becomes less solid closer to eye level to preserve visibility of the horizon from the esplanade. The bottom part of the veil is composed of loose strings, thus minimizing entanglement and obstruction to traffic and public. The energy is harnessed by a simple four bar linkage mechanism not dissimilar to a scalable version of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest. The rotating turbine themselves are located underground perhaps visible and easy to access with removable steel grating. With St Kilda’s average wind speed of 20km/h the 25 rotors of 40kwh each are estimated to generate the amount of 1 mwh.
The battery packs rather than being laid across the site is minimally stacked into a form of tower echoing the heights and length of the Palais Theatre and is arranged in a herringbone manner to become a visible infrastructure almost like an archival library setting with a public thoroughfare. The battery tower is also possibly proposed to store even external capacity of power generated elsewhere.
ST KILDA’S VEIL – BOHEMIAN WIND CURTAIN
The St Kilda’s veil is the manifestation of diverse history, culture and place of St Kilda. Arranged in a linear manner the veil draws upon the maritime image of St Kilda prior to arriving in Port Melbourne – elongates in the landscape like the tracks of the tramline leading to the city. The twenty five 30 meter poles, like the numerous sail poles of the yachts anchored in St Kilda Pier holds up the continuous veil. The colours, the red and orange reflecting the colours of the traditional land – the red gum of the St Kilda Corroboree Tree, the bright colours of the red-light entertainment district of the St Kilda history. The deep purple – the bohemian and LGBT culture of St Kilda. The tapestry of the veil long drawn and visibly composed of strings perhaps alluding to the unashamingly unconventional Bohemian tapestry. The bottom of the veil – composed loosely of strings evokes akin to a Bohemian doorway of beaded curtains. Wavering slowly against the winds these strings billows slowly and invites the passersby to walk across and touch the soft tapestry, inviting playfulness evocated by Luna Park. At night, different brightness of animating lights elucidates the waving speed of the curtain against the wind. From the compositing identities of the indigenous, maritime and Bohemian, St Kilda’s Veil – the wind curtain foretells St Kilda as a visual prelude to Melbourne and Victoria’s energy overlaying initiative.