Is it a power station or a public art installation? Well, this shimmering piece of architectural wonder, called “The Pipe,” might just blur the lines between the two.

A finalist at the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for the Santa Monica pier in California, the “Pipe” is designed as a floating installation off the coast that not only looks dazzling on the horizon, but also desalinates seawater using the power of the sun.

And that’s exactly the premise of the LAGI design competition, which asked this year’s participants to come up with concepts for electricity and clean water generation that could be placed near the Santa Monica Pier. The goal: point out that today’s increasing demands for power shouldn’t pave the way for eye sores.

The Pipe (Source: LAGI)


Among those who took up the challenge was the Canadian engineering firm Abdolazis Khalili and Associates, which specializes in processing plants for food and packaging industries.

Conventional desalination technology, like reverse osmosis, uses excessive electricity, requires expensive machinery, and generates unwanted industrial waste and polluted water. In comparison, the Khalili engineers’ design is composed of solar panels that provide 10,000 MWh of power each year to pump seawater through an electromagnetic filtration process, generating 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for the city.

“Electromagnetic filtration uses an isolated electromagnetic field on pipes circulating seawater, separating the salts and impurities. The process is rapid and energy efficient,” the engineers said in their design brief.

Aside from providing potable water, the glittering silver tube can also clear water with 12 percent salinity to be used for thermal baths.

“The drinking water is piped to shore, while the salt water… is directed back to the ocean through a smart release system, mitigating most of the usual problems associated with returning brine water to the sea,” the engineers said. “The Pipe represents a change in the future of water.”

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