Brilliant 5CUBE sends powerful tangible message of Ireland’s dependence on fossil fuels 


Did you know that Ireland consumes 473 barrels of oil every five minutes? Though that rate of consumption sounds high, the numbers are hard for most to visualize—until now. Renewable energy initiative Ace For Energy commissioned de Siún Scullion Architects to design 5CUBE, a giant semi-permanent pavilion in Hanover Quay, Dublin that physically represents those hard-to-fathom numbers. The solar-powered 5CUBE also speaks to the country’s renewable energy targets.


De Siún Scullion Architects’ 5CUBE design was selected as the winning entry in the 2013 ‘Imagine Energy’ competition hosted by Ace For Energy. The brief sought installation ideas that would make Ireland’s daily consumption of oil physical and tangible to Dublin passersby on the docklands near the River Liffey. The installation is constructed from durable black glass and is topped by rooftop solar panels that power LEDs and an information screen. The LEDs illuminate the cube’s mirrored interior, making the installation glow from the inside.

While the size of the black cube represents the oil consumed every five minutes, the kaleidoscopic mirrored bands on the cube’s east and west sides symbolize renewable energy. The mirrored east face represents the amount of renewables that Ireland currently uses, while the west side represents the country’s renewable energy targets for 2020. A periscope is built into the cube to provide views of the sky and changing weather responsible for many of our sustainable sources of energy, from solar to tidal.


“We wanted to bring home to people just how much fossil fuel we are using and how quickly it is being consumed,” says architect Declan Scullion of de Siún Scullion Architects. “We first calculated the volume of oil used in Ireland per day, and then broke that down into five minutes worth of oil consumption. This relates to 473 barrels, or a 4.2 metre cubic volume. The hope is that the visual impact and scale of the 5Cube will have more impact than the statistics alone.”


The self-sufficient 5CUBE can be easily dismantled and relocated.

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