The solar-powered beach umbrella wants to make summer energy use more sustainable –

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Summer is a big, booming time for coastal towns, but all that sudden activity and tourism can be a drain on resources. The pace and demands of summer put pressure on a city’s power grid, which can cause rolling blackouts and worsen air quality. Coastal Italians are intimately familiar with this struggle, and this year’s record-breaking heat in Europe has only made the problem more urgent. Fortunately, resourceful designers and engineers are coming up with exciting solutions, such as the solar-powered beach umbrella Parelio.

This smart lawn accessory from CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and the Italian dessert company Sammontana converts peaceful outdoor scenes into sustainable energy. It uses foldable, photovoltaic panels to collect sunlight which can then be used for a variety of purposes, including cooling the immediate environment, cooling refreshments, charging phones and powering machinery. Parelio’s attached coolers, sprinklers and refrigeration capabilities make it perfect for providing comfortable seating at restaurants, cafes or park events.

The design resulted from a collaboration between architect Italo Rota and inventor Chuck Hoberman, who specializes in building retractable structures. Together they created a modern, multi-talented approach to the beach umbrella with a charismatic look that takes inspiration from origami. The subversive design of Parelio literally turns the classic umbrella on its head, and folds up towards the sky, so that its photovoltaic layer can absorb as much sunlight as possible. Despite its direct visual contrast with typical beach accessories, the top of Parelio is still flat enough to provide enough shade.

While one umbrella is powerful on its own, a network of Parelios packs an even bigger punch. The product’s modular system design allows multiple umbrellas of electricity to be pooled that can provide power for an impressive variety of structures, from ice coolers to an entire resort. This means that increased traffic at bar patios, restaurants and hotels does not have to translate into huge electricity bills, and the accumulated power can even provide a boost to energy on busy nights or off-seasons.

The advantages of Parelio have already been measured in the home of the Milan design, where the team carried out a successful eight-week prototype test last summer. Sustainable non-profit The Riccardo Catella Foundation helped them install a free public lounge of several umbrellas in BAM Park-Tree Library that provided relief to locals and visitors while simulating the outcomes of single and aggregate setups.

This is just one great example of how the device can directly benefit not only small businesses, but entire cities. Parelio’s high wattage talents are coupled with flexibility, scalability and simple installation that would make it easy to adopt in small or large environments. The clever design is particularly notable for providing an eco-friendly alternative to increasingly hot summers, proving that a luxury holiday scene to be able be environmentally sustainable.

Parelio is the professional notable in the Speculative Design category of the 2022 Core77 Design Awards. you can view all the 2022 winners now on the Core77 Design Awards website.

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