Solarpunk is an artistic and cultural movement that, as the manifesto states, seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?”
It’s not only based on a punk aesthetic in which nature thrives on technological ruins, which has Art Nouveau and Hayao Miayzaki as references, but a real vision for the future. Unlike other similar movements, such as steampunk and cyberpunk, this one suggests a more sustainable life.
“Solutions to thrive without fossil fuels, to equitably manage real scarcity and share in abundance instead of supporting false scarcity and false abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share.”
Although it is a cultural movement, it is not far from the world of design, indeed, we can already consider some designs as in line with the solarpunk vision.
The movement embraces the use of ancient and modern technology in order to achieve a sustainable life, which is why, going back to 2008, the term appears for the first time on the Republic of the Bees blog in reference to… a merchant ship. The Beluga SkySails (article cover), is referred to as the movement’s official ship because it’s partially powered by a giant computer-controlled kite rig. A useless boat for dynamics and timing of contemporary commercial exchanges, but an interesting solution in a world without overproduction and attentive to the environment.
Solarpunk also means energy independence and self-sufficiency, which we can find in projects such as WaterLight, Portable Solar Distiller or Sunne. It means knowing how to recycle waste (material design) and repair objects (U211 umbrella by Pocodisegno), or creatively reusing existing infrastructure, such as the Tainan Spring urban lagoon by MVRDV or the Precollinear Park in Turin…
Solarpunk is a vision of a future that “embodies the best of what humanity can achieve” and perhaps at this very moment in history, overwhelmed by climate change and the pandemic, this is the path to follow. The utopia we’ve been waiting for.