Ah, summer! Nothing better to make seaside resorts thrive a little, especially small ones that make a living from tourism or a little more. With the sudden increase in inhabitants and active users, however, overload is always around the corner, especially these days.
The pace and demands of summer put energy grids under pressure, often causing blackouts. Italians living in these coastal towns are well aware of the problem, and this year's record heat in Europe has made it even more urgent. Fortunately, enterprising designers and engineers are coming up with interesting solutions. One of these, authentically seaside, is the solar-powered umbrella Parelium.
A sun umbrella for a friend
The project was born from the collaboration between the brilliant architect Italo Rota and the inventor Chuck Hoberman, specialized in the construction of retractable structures. Together, they created a modern take on the classic beach umbrella, with a charismatic look that draws inspiration from origami.
Parelio's interesting design is literally subversive: in the sense that it subverts the direction of the umbrella, bending it towards the sky so that its photovoltaic roof can absorb as much sunlight as possible. Despite the immediate visual contrast to typical beach accessories, Parelio remains flat enough to provide plenty of shade.
What does Parelio do?
The ingenious garden accessory, later made by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and from the Italian sweets company Sammontana, it derives sustainable energy from the scorching days on the beach. Its foldable photovoltaic panels collect sunlight to reuse it in many ways.
Cools the surrounding environment, refrigerates drinks, recharges and powers electronic devices, etc. All these "add-ons" (coolers, sprayers and so on) make the Parelio umbrella perfect for enriching the experience of relaxation and fun for patrons of beaches, restaurants, cafes or city parks.
The strength of a team
If a single umbrella is powerful on its own, a Parelio network is even more powerful. The system's modular design allows multiple umbrellas to pool electricity to power an impressive variety of facilities, from ice cream fridges to an entire resort.
In summary? The increase in traffic in the dehors of bars, restaurants and hotels will not translate into higher electricity bills, and the accumulated energy can even lend a hand on the most "critical" nights or in the low season.
The benefits of Parelio have already been measured in Milan, home of the project, where the team successfully conducted a test of this sun umbrella for eight weeks last summer. There Fondazione Riccardo Catella hosted several umbrellas in an area of the BAM Park-Tree Library, comforting citizens and visitors while collecting the results of single and aggregate displays.
Italian umbrella, homegrown energy
What we are seeing are the first steps in a project that could bring immediate benefits not just to small businesses, but to entire cities. Parelio's high wattage "petals" (flexible, scalable and easy to install) make it easy to use this parasol in rooms of all sizes.
The clever design of this parasol is particularly noteworthy because it provides an eco-friendly alternative to increasingly hot summers and demonstrates that even holidays can be more environmentally sustainable.