With its Fruit and an Energy Farms, the Thunmanskolan's schoolyard in Knivsta (Sweden) displays the processes of harvesting energy from the sun and the wind, through man-made technology and photosynthesis. What is more, the two farms point to a new balance between the urban and the rural - to the self-empowerment and self-sustainability of communities. The project - designed by artist and architect Marjetica Potrč and STEALTH.unlimited, and in collaboration with landscape architect Ingalill Nahringbauer - was commissioned by the National Public Art Council of Sweden and Knivsta Municipality. It has been made through an exchange with the school children and has been juried by them.
The 8.500 m2 schoolyard consists of two parts, the Fruit Farm – with hands-on harvest of apples and pears, and the hi-tech Energy Farm – a hybrid system consisting of solar panels and a wind turbine that transform energy from the sun and wind into electricity, sufficient to light the schoolyard. The 12.5 meters tall wind turbine (a WES Tulipo) is licensed for use in urban areas to be safe and silent. It can generate a maximum output of 2.5 kW, although in the urban area of Knivsta it will generally produce a much more moderate outcome. The 6 solar panels produce around 1.2 kW. Inside the school, the actual energy production is displayed to the students and staff so they can monitor the direct impact of wind speed and cloudy or sunny days. This ecologically friendly power is harvested and plugged in the school's electricity grid. In the Energy Farm, stretching out from the main school entrance, a white pattern on the asphalt represents one of the molecular structures of photosynthesis.
A large wooden deck connects the Fruit Farm and the Energy Farm. The aim of the design is to provide students with an open space and an open structure to freely and inventively interpret for playing, socializing, or relaxing. Due to its central position, Thunmanskolan's schoolyard also offers an important public space for gatherings of the community. Thus the theatre, located at the centre of the schoolyard, serves both students and Knivsta citizens.
Knivsta is a new municipality with many ambitions for the future and in search for its identity. Together, the Fruit Farm and the hi-tech Energy Farm make a statement to the broader community about participation in harvesting, and caring for energy resources. Nature and the city coexist simultaneously, in a new way.