We connect design and technology to provide an efficient solution for eco friendly power supply. We connect Munich to Cape Town to maximize knowledge and expertise. We connect to make solar energy accessible for people all over the world. We.Connect.
We are an intercultural and interdisciplinary project team, that consists of students from the fields of communication and industrial design at the University of Munich and technology students from the Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town. Together with the agency “World of Eve“ we have the goal to design an object in the public space, which, by using solar energy, can be used to charge small electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones via USB.
Exhibition 22. - 24.07
Fakultät für Design
We would like this charging device to have more use to the society than only charging mobile devices. We have decided that it will work as an information platform as well, so that the users can spend the time at the bench learning more about the topics of solar energy and renewable energy sources. In addition to that the elements holding the information can be used as black boards or notification boards, advertising sponsors or functioning as an information exchange.
0.1 solar panels Three 80W solar panels, 800 x 600 mm which are mounted on top of the canopies provide sufficient amounts of energy to charge several devices at a time.
0.2 information graphic As an additional function, we have designed information graphics which educate the viewer about how a solar panel is produced, how much energy the sun generates and where our electricity comes from.
0.3 add-on modules Depending on available space and need, the charging station can be expanded by adding different modules to the center piece. Additional benches, information graphics, canopies or even another center module can be attached.
0.4 main module The center piece consists of three large iron cast parts which are bolted together. The parts are heavy but relatively easy to manufacture. This approach gives us a wide contact area to the ground so there is no need for a foundation in the ground.
0.5 battery A battery is needed in order to charge devices even at night when there is no sunlight. Even a relatively small battery is able to store enough energy so that the charger can be used 24 hours a day throughout the year.
The cluster is arranged in a hexagonal grid. With this approach we wanted to achieve a nice and tidy yet still somewhat exciting layout. It is not as strict as a rectangular grid and gives the user a pleasant sense of space.
Since people are going to be at the charging station for relatively long periods of time they might want to be able to sit some-where. Each bench is about 2.5 meters wide and provides room for about 3 people per bench. The benches can be made of different materials, ranging from different kinds of woods to recycled plastic materials.
The canopies which hold the solar panels are roughly 1.2 meters in diameter and installed at an 15 degree angle, so that the solar panels won’t collect dirt over time. The cut-outs make sure that there is not a lot of flat surface that the wind can attack. Furthermore, this reduces their weight and makes them cast a nice and organic shadow for the people underneath.
Our goal was to create a bench that can work on its own, or together in a group. Thus one can decide how many benches are needed for a specific area and in what formation they will be arranged. The main body of the benches will be closed, so that batteries and all other electronic equipment can be stored safely inside.
The most important aspect was to make users feel comfortable while spending time at the bench, an thus connect with each other while using the solar energy. To achieve this, our design focuses on making the unit welcoming and appealing to the users concerning the overall design, and also regarding aesthetics, usability and production.