Destined For Destruction, Solar Tubes Repurposed For Berkeley Art Installation
August 23, 2012
All Images © Matthew Millman
The Botanical Garden at the University of California, Berkeley has unveiled a new installation titled “Natural Discourse,” curated by artist and garden designer Shirley Watts and visual artist Anne Friel. The site-specific project, which runs through January 2013, brings a variety of contributions to the 34-acre garden, including “The SOL Grotto,” an exhibit birthed from glass solar tubes salvaged by artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello. Read More.
The cylindrical tubes were created by Solyndra, the clean tech company that was once touted for innovation before collapsing in 2011 under stiff economic pressures. “The SOL Grotto” features an estimated 1,400 specially coated solar tubes, a fraction of the total originally produced by Solyndra. Most of the tubes were marked for destruction after the defunct company determined the cost of storage was greater than their actual value.
The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden describes the exhibit:
“Descending into the Strawberry Creek from the California Native section of the Berkeley Botanical Gardens, one discovers The SOL Grotto. Inside is an array of nearly 1,400 glass tubes that transmit light into the cool, dark space. The glass tubes are illuminated naturally to an electric-blue color from the ambient light and change throughout the day. The tubes take on the form of a cave wall or a waterfall. The view through the rods is simultaneously kaleidoscopic and mesmeric. The sound of a waterfall is present inside The SOL Grotto and the combination of sound, light, views, and coolness filtering through the cracks in the flooring creates a highly sensorial space.”