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About the Author

Robert Stefanicki
Journalist (Warsaw, Poland)

Old salt international affairs writer. At present freelance (looking for a job!), most of his professional life worked for the largest daily in Poland. Focused on Asia and Middle East, where witnessed some dirty wars, now more and more interested in development and other global issues. In collusion with Institute of Global Responsibility, our new and fast growing NGO. Self made photographer (see my website), scuba diver, sailor, cyclist and movie addict.


Waterfall for Rio

Published 15th July 2010 - 12 comments - 4423 views -

In the post Skyscraper for Darfur, I presented some architectural do-good works. Today a couple examples of interesting, brand new projects – this time for implementation in the near future.

For the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Swiss studio RAFAA designed “Solar City Tower” that - packed with solar panels and sustainable features – wants to help make Rio’s Olympics the first ever zero-carbon games.



The project consists of a 105 meter high solar power plant that by day produces energy for the Olympic village. Excessive energy will be pumped as seawater into a tower. By night, the water can be released again; with the help of turbines, it generates electricity for the night. The electricity produced can be used for the lighting of the tower or for the city. On special occasions, this “machine building” turns into an impressive wonder of nature: an urban waterfall, a symbol for the forces of nature.

Located at the breathtaking vantage point, on one of the island in Guanabara Bay, the structure boasts an amphitheater, auditorium, cafeteria and shops in the ground level apart from a deck for bungee jumping.

Let’s stay in the Green Island Zone...


This is the Island Synchronicity – Jakub Szczęsny’s project of a floating platform for water purification, that entered the Semi-Final of The Buckminster Fuller Challenge. On the platform floating over main Polish river, Wisła, are planned 9 gym facilities. Water is pumped by the force of muscles into the filters hidden in a tank.

Given the Wisła’s high pollution level, the fellows need to work-up for some 9 billions years to clean it...


Now ingenious idea for disaster zones.

Woven Shelter by Jiyoun Kim won the first prize in 2010 competition of The American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Young Architects Forum (YAF) and Committee on Design (COD).

Just read it: “A sequence of donut-like membranes allows the user to shelter themselves by filling the bag with cheap, local resources such as sand. These membranes are then woven into strands and become a self supporting structure without the need for additional framing. This system allows for user flexibility as long term users can pack mud or aggregate material onto the fabric and short term users can string large sheets of fabric between the long term shelters.”


For the end, something to smile.


In December 2009, the site Archinect launched the open call for ideas ‘Switzerland, We Have A Problem’ to find adequate architectural solutions to Switzerland’s recent political ban of an internationally very common building type - the minaret. The ideas are great indeed. Click here to see more.


Category: Technology | Tags:


  • Carmen Paun on 15th July 2010:

    The idea of making the 2016 Olympic Games the first ever zero-carbon event sounds mind blowing! Hope they manage!

  • Jan Marcinek on 15th July 2010:

    Hmmm. Interesting

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 15th July 2010:

    the photos looks like from science fiction movie… smile

  • Hanna Clarys on 15th July 2010:

    I have my doubts with that waterfall; it looks like it will disturb the eco-life on that island. Maybe it will generate enough electricity for the Olympics, but what effect will it have on the island?

  • Luan Galani on 15th July 2010:

    Hi Robert,

    All that sounds so mind-blowing…I really didn’t know that. I hope we can manage to do all this.

    All that @Hanna said has to be taken into consideration. But, mind you, Guanabara Bay has suffered extensive damage so far. Pollution of its waters with sewage and oil spills are outrageous. Look at it:

  • Luan Galani on 15th July 2010:

    @Hanna, what most impressed me was it: “Nothing is growing here, and I can’t imagine anything growing here in a very long time. It’s sad.”
    I’ve been there before 2000 and things were not so bad. I weep over it and over the non-action of my government.

  • Hussam Hussein on 15th July 2010:

    Would be great to have the Olympics environmentally friendly.. will they manage?

  • Robert Stefanicki on 16th July 2010:

    @Iwona: Technically, these are not photos, but virtual project visualization.

    I wonder if the solar tower in Rio will become reality. Can’t find any info if it has been accepted by the authorities. No track of Green’s protests either.

  • Clare Herbert on 16th July 2010:

    Wow, those are odd images! Beautiful though.

  • Luan Galani on 16th July 2010:

    @Robert, I will try hard to find out.

  • Luan Galani on 16th July 2010:

    @Robert, I’ve already made contact with the right people. Soon we will have some answer.

    @Hanna, chewing this idea over, I think this project may not disturb the eco-life but may call attention to the current situation of that bay and make people plunge into the conservation of it.

  • Sylwia Presley on 25th July 2010:

    Very inspiring ideas!

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