Solar power is the future of sustainable and green energy. Yet, solar technology has not gained broad adoption. This is partly due to cost, but also due to poor messaging and storytelling. The words “solar power” conjure up images of large, expensive panels that may not even work. Add in the fact that many people have the common misconception that they have to make a sacrifice to be green, and it’s easy to see why solar is still considered a secondary energy source.
We wanted to build something that would create a meaningful connection between people and solar. We call it Street Charge. Not only does it connect and delight the public with convenient solar power, it is also a great example of the power of design to make connections between community needs, trends in public spaces and business needs.
Street Charge is a simple, highly functional urban intervention with an elegant form made from materials that complement their surroundings. It offers people a much needed service and a brief respite from their hectic day. Initially, our local DUMBO Business Improvement District gave us an opportunity to prototype our solar charging concept into cafe umbrellas in the Pearl Street Triangle of Brooklyn. This began a process of design and refinement which led to our final production design.
We call the final design language "industrial-organic." Robust materials and clean lines are combined with a nod toward the organic natural beauty of drawing power from the sun. The solar panels grow out of the structure as "petals" and tilt toward the South. The form and materials further complement their surroundings.
Because it doesn’t need to be plugged in, Street Charge can be “dropped in” anywhere, quickly and easily. From beaches to parks to college campuses and beyond, many of these public areas lack outlets and power sources, let alone coffee shops to go in and charge up. By using solar, Street Charge is able to provide reliable and free recharging at these hard to c