Big Balls

Harvesting energy from the waves and purifying water with only the energy of the Sun!

BIG BALLS is published in ‘Powering Places: Land Art Generator Initiative, Santa Monica’, Prestel.

The Artwork base are long floating rectangular platforms that will silently and slowly move with the waves. This new landscape in the water will sway in synchrony with the ocean and will allow people to enjoy a unique connection with the ocean while enjoying the Artwork, sunbathing or just walking around. Sometimes the water will flow over the platforms, making them temporarily disappear.

A composition of giant transparent plastic balls, positioned and scaled to mimic the order of water molecules, will complete the Artwork. The Big Balls are completely transparent with only a very thin spiral of channels running along their skin creating an indescribable horizon at a distance. While walking on the Artwork, because of its transparency, the scale of the Big Balls will be difficult to grasp. The transparent material will create reflections and distortions of the background with different spheres superimposed in the perspective, and the possible clouds generated inside them will further enrich the experience. At night a very discrete lightning inside the spheres will change the horizon, creating reflection-like ghosts of the Ferris wheel, like a lens against the sunlight.  All this will create the impression of being in a new and different galaxy.

This beautiful out-of-this-world experience, apart from connecting us with the ocean waves and tides, will also be a sustainable electricity generator and a water desalinization plant.

The movement of the platforms, powered by the waves and tides, will activate a series of pistons that attach them to the ocean floor and the old wave breaker (that will work as the fulcrum). This movement will generate pressure that activates a turbine to generate electricity 24 hours a day. The turbine will produce electricity that will be fed to the Santa Monica network.

The Big Balls are floating giant plastic spheres that are also attached to the floor by a piston. With the movement of the spheres the piston will pump water in and out of the system. The spheres have a central plate where salt water is pumped into which, when heated by the sun, will accelerate the evaporation rate. The evaporated water will then condense on the Big Balls plastic skin, the new clean water will slide down the wall, collect on the spiral channels and finally be stored in the tank at the base of the sphere. The pistons will pump the water out of the sphere to the central pump that distributes the water to the city.

The Artwork is completely safe and accessible for anyone to contemplate, sun-bathe on, walk on or use as a secondary beach, creating a new kind of public space. The Artwork is only accessible by boat.


Electricity will be generated through a turbine generator activated by water pressure.

Drinking water will be created by natural distillation.


TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) spheres of 40m and 20m diameter.

Recycled steel for the structural elements and water tanks.

Recovered floating plastic and debris for the platforms.

Concrete with recycled aggregates for the platforms.

Stainless steel for pipes and hardware.


There are 22 platforms, 30m wide and 150m long, and each one of them generates 5MW. The total energy generated is 110MW which is equivalent to the energy needed for 24,420 homes in the LA area.


There are six 40m diameter spheres and eleven 20m diameter spheres. The total production is = 37.8 mday, equivalent to water consumption for 50 homes.