First look: Architect creates 'Solar City Tower' for Rio's Olympic Games

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Swiss architect Rafael Schmidt, of Zurich-based practice rafaa, has entered a breathtaking structure into the International Architecture Competition for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which he hopes could help turn the city into a symbol of eco-sustainability.

Consisting of a skyhigh, artificial waterfall structure built around a solar plant, the Solar City Tower is designed to greet visitors to the city, "whether they arrive by air or sea."

With a dominant position on Cotonduba Island, the energy-producing building could grow into an icon for green living and put Brazil, which has announced plans to cut down on carbon emissions and deforestation in the past, at the forefront of the development.

The structure would rely on solar energy from its massive panels to provide energy to the city and the Olympic village during the day, with excessive energy being pumped as seawater into the tower. At night, this 'left-over' energy could be released again and, with the help of turbines, generate electricity to illuminate Rio.

"After hosting the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992, Rio de Janeiro will once again be the starting point for a global green movement and for a sustainable development of urban structures," Schmidt said. "It will perhaps even become a symbol for the first zero carbon footprint Olympic Games."

If approved by the jury, the building would also host viewing platforms, a cafeteria, shopping facilities, and even a deck for bungee jumping.

It is the first project to emerge as candidate for the official architectural structure to mark Rio's hosting of the Olympic Games. According to the organizers, building work on the winning proposal is planned to begin this year, even though no official schedule has yet been announced.

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