Electricity, my neighbours and me

La Pile Mécanique

a giant, mechanical, neighbourhood-made battery without using scarce resources

The Mechanical Battery is an artistic-functional installation in public space, connected to a pv (photo-voltaic) installation on the roof of a (public) building. It allows to store the solar energy produced by the panels when it is not used and makes it freely available in a small user-friendly space at street level.

The installation consists of two parts :

1/ Technical/technological

a mechanical hydroelectric battery consisting of :

  • a closed water circuit
  • 2 storage tanks at different heights,
  • a pump driven by a small electrical surplus, generated by a PV installation on the roof of a public building, to pump water from the lowest to the highest storage tank,
  • an electric turbine/generator that comes into operation when a water tap is opened, causing water to flow from the upper water tank to the lower one
  • a power outlet with a USB port to charge the phone, computers, ...

2/ Arrangement of the public space

  • a nice place to relax while charging electronic devices
  • an attractive / intriguing space that invites use and encounter
  • shelter/protection of technical equipment
  • information and exchange space

a pre-study project is launched (December 2019 - May 2020)

with the support of the Maison Eco Huis de Saint-Gilles

collaborative mapping to find the best location in the Midi district
Thursday, January 30, 2020
place and time to be confirmed

  • presentation of the results of the workshop and the chosen venue, during the opening of the La Pile exhibition
    Thursday, February 6, 2020
    Maison du Peuple (Parvis de Saint-Gilles)
    17:00 - 21:00


  • first proposals, models and calculations (students of Ingénieux Nord - UCLouvain)


  • First proposals and sketches by Urban Design students - Academy of Fine Arts Brussels

  • public presentation of the students' work, during the finishing of the exhibition La Pile
    Friday, February 21, 2020
    Maison du Peuple (Parvis de Saint-Gilles)
    17:00 - 21:00

The final installation will be used for several purposes :

  • to provide a place in the public space where small amounts of locally produced green electricity is made available to all, free of charge;
  • to create a space that makes current systemic electricity issues visible and understandable. And in particular two things:

1) GREENER electricity production and storage - i.e. by wind and sun. The great challenge of renewable energies is the need to store this electricity (because the sun does not shine constantly, nor does the wind blow continuously).

2) a LOCALIZED production of electricity! The challenges:
How can it be produced in cities, even in dense neighbourhoods?
How to make the most of electricity that has been produced locally? This is not easy because you have to plug in as much as possible when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing ("self-consumption").
How to share energy between neighbours and organize collective self-consumption?
What about energy cooperatives? ;

In addition, the Pile Mécanique aims to:

illustration © Fanny Monier

Electricity, my neighbours and me