Ian Dryden

Solar Tree, 2017

The Solar Tree evolved from a challenge set by the Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) to the City of Melbourne to develop an innovative structure that could harness solar energy in a very practical way. The City of Melbourne’s industrial design team responded with the idea of a transportable solar tree. The Solar Tree is designed to build awareness of solar technology, complement the existing suite of City of Melbourne street furniture, be transportable without the need for bulky cabling and integrate with surrounding trees and parkland.

The Solar Tree arms and seat frame is constructed from galvanised steel. The seat itself utilises a variety of timber types. The timber is sourced from trees that have either died or have been removed for development from the City of Melbourne municipality. 

The tree harnesses the solar energy from the sun via its ‘canopy’ in the form of LED chips and light emitting diodes. The LEADSUN solar panels have an integrated lithium battery with an LED light on the opposite side to the solar panel. This allows for streamlined installation without having to manage a battery box, which is common to other solar light installations. Solar Tree also has additional features, such as phone charging portals and seating at the base. These features set this clever design as a new benchmark in sustainable design. Constructed with public use in mind it provides the community with a place to rest and recharge, promoting a positive social impact, ensuring our public spaces are safe, vibrant and well-connected. 

Image: Solar Tree, 2017, steel, wood. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

Ian Dryden

Ian Dryden is the principal industrial designer within the City Design and Project team at the City of Melbourne. Since 1987, his task has been to program, design, implement and market street furniture and temporary facilities for the city. Ian's major task has been the design and coordination of the street furniture, temporary fixtures, kiosks, toilets, decoration, lighting systems and pedestrian information signage for the city's master plan. Ian's work has received both popular and professional recognition. He is a contributing member of the city’s Urban Design team, who has won a number of AIA, AILA, IES awards and international industrial design awards for the cities projects.