Solar Hourglass

The winner of the $15,000 First Prize Land Art Generator Initiative award year was Argentinian architect Santiago Muros Cortés and his project ’The Solar Hourglass’. The design proposal resembles a minimalist hourglass with pure solar energy running through it like sand through glass.



Photo courtesy of LAGI 2014


The project makes of heliostat technology to act as a solar central receiver, consisting of an arrangement of small flat mirrors that concentrate their reflection of solar energy onto a tank containing a heating medium. The concentrated beam of solar heat then reaches a receiver containing heat transfer fluid (HTF) of molten nitrate salt, which is heated to temperatures over 600°C. The heat capacity of the molten salt allows for the system to store heat and produce energy even without direct sunlight.



The Solar Hourglass is estimated to generate up to 7.500 MWh per year, equivalent to the energy consumption of more than 1.000 homes.


At the awards ceremony on October 7th, Santiago Muros Cortés describes how he conceived the Solar Hourglass: “I was running out of time. The deadline for the competition was only a couple of weeks away and I realized that when you think about it, I am not the only one running out of time,” he says. “The whole planet is running out of time, when it comes to making a switch to green energies. So I thought it was interesting to explore the analogy between time and energy. Time is something that everyone can relate to, and we should appreciate energy as much as we appreciate time,” Santiago Muros Cortés says.


LAGI is an idea competition with no guaranteed funding, but one of the conditions for submission is that they be suitable for manufacture. The first Land Art Generator, originally a proposal for the 2010 Abu Dhabi competition, is now under construction in Pittsburgh. The main goal of the initiative is to start a debate about how to create a future based on renewable energies in such a way as to positively transform our societies. LAGI wishes to engage actors in energy production and open minds to new ways of imagining energy generators for the future.