Houston’s next piece of public art is being described as “the world’s largest sundial” and will also produce solar power for the local community.
The striking Arco del Tiempo (Arch of Time) is the creation of Berlin-based artist and architect Riccardo Mariano and will be installed in the Texan city’s East End district in 2024.
The 100-foot-tall structure will function as a time measuring device, a light display, and a solar installation that generates 400,000 kWh of power each year. It’s been designed in a way to beam sunlight onto the surface of Houston’s Guadalupe Plaza Park, with the patterns of light changing according to the position of the sun.
Solar panels placed on the south-facing exterior of the sculpture will generate power equivalent to the demand of 40 local homes and offset more than 100% of the power demand of the nearby Talento Bilingüe de Houston, a city-owned Latino cultural hub for performing arts in the East End.
“Beyond its break-even point, which will be tracked and celebrated with the community, the artwork will live as a net-positive contributor to a healthy climate and the planet will be better off for its existence,” according to Land Art Generator, a non-profit organization that helped to realize the project via its interest in tackling the climate crisis with original structures that combine functionality and art.
Riccardo Mariano described his work as “a practical example to illustrate the movement of the earth around the sun in a playful way,” adding that at night the space within the arch will be used for public events.
“This unique artwork is more than a sculpture,” local mayor Sylvester Turner commented. “It is a renewable energy power plant. It is a monument to a new era of energy.”
Turner added: “The City of Houston has always stood at the vanguard of energy innovation and the Arco del Tiempo artwork stands in that tradition, highlighting Houston’s role as an art city and as global leader in the energy transition.”