In recent weeks, Greenwich residents will have noticed an astonishing new structure appearing on the skyline. The Optic Cloak is a sculpture with a purpose, providing not only eye-catching artwork for Londoners but also a flue for a renewable energy centre.
The Energy Centre
This astonishing sculpture has been commissioned as part of the Energy Centre for the Greenwich Peninsula, Europe’s largest regeneration area, set to cover 160 acres and provide 15,000 homes. These residences will be heated with green energy, courtesy of the Energy Centre, a new, low-carbon initiative which will remove the need for residents to have boilers in their own homes. Instead, heat generated by sources as diverse as the River Thames and even the London Underground will be piped directly into the houses, flats and commercial spaces on the Greenwich Peninsula.
Not only will the Energy Centre be an example of low-carbon best practice, but it will also feature a visitor centre to inform and educate people about ways of producing renewable energy, and why it’s important.
The Optic Cloak
The new Energy Centre needed a flue, and developers and Greenwich council decided that this was also a great opportunity for some public art! Artist Conrad Shawcross designed the remarkable 49m tower, a lightweight structure which uses the minimum of material – the perfect solution for a low-carbon building. The flue is concealed inside perforated, folded panels of brushed aluminium creating a moiré effect – the twinkling illusion that appears when one regular pattern, such as a fine mesh, overlays another. The perforations also make the building able to withstand strong winds.
The Optic Cloak is a stunning addition to the Greenwich skyline, bringing great art and quality building to an area welcoming regeneration.
While new homes do have to comply with regulations around energy efficiency, there is currently no legislation on where the energy should come from. Fortunately, many developers are taking a responsible approach and connecting new home owners to environmentally-friendly energy sources, like the developers at the Greenwich Peninsula have.
Even if your home was not built with renewable energy in mind, it is possible to install solar panels. Government grants are not available per se, but the government will pay you for the energy your solar panels produce, under a scheme called the Feed-in Tariff. This allows home owners not only a good return on their investments, but also peace of mind, knowing that they’re heating their homes in an environmentally-friendly way.
Residents of the Greenwich Peninsular will be able to enjoy warm homes with low environmental impact, thanks to the Energy Centre, London’s varied heat sources (!) and Conrad Shawcross’s stunning flue. Greenwich is turning over a new leaf – the regeneration offers stability and economic growth for residents and businesses alike.