Our Renewable Energy Artworks series continues this month with an introduction to the prolific Dutch artist/architect/innovator Daan Roosegaarde, a self-described “futurist-focused-on-the-present” and founder of Studio Roosegaarde based in Rotterdam, with a new satellite “pop-up” studio in Shanghai.
It’s hard to keep up with Daan Roosegaarde, the internationally acclaimed visionary creative change-maker whose nature-driven social design lab, Studio Roosegaarde, functions as an interactive incubator to create site-specific installations exploring the dynamic relation between people, technology and space.
Fresh on the heels of his TED2017 lecture last month in Vancouver, Roosegaarde just won yet another international award, this time for his mind-bending Windlicht (Wind Light) project, eloquently described by one spectator as “jumping rope with the wind” in the video below:
Inspired by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk, one of the Netherlands’ most popular tourist attractions where 19 windmills were built between 1738 and 1740 to help manage water levels, Windlicht celebrates the invisible beauty of clean energy while creating a “missing link between the Dutch and the beauty of our new landscape.”
According to Slate, Roosegaarde worked with a team of designers and engineers to create special software and tracking technology to detect the movement of wind turbine blades rotating at 280 kilometres per hour (174 mph). He visually connected the turbines in the evening sky using a series of dancing green laser beams whose movement was choreographed into what Roosegaarde calls “a dynamic play of light and movement.”
The first Windlicht light show was visible over four nights in March 2016 at the Eneco wind farm at St. Annaland in Zeeland. Future international Windlicht sites are planned and will be announced on Studio Roosegaarde’s website and social media.
I first started following Roosegaarde back in 2014, when his gorgeous solar-powered, glow-in-the-dark Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bike path opened in Nuenen, NL, to international acclaim.
Inspired by Van Gogh’s 1889 painting The Starry Night, this 600-metre stretch along the 335-km-long Van Gogh cycle route contains 50,000 pebbles coated in a phosphorescent paint and solar-powered LEDs, both of which collect solar energy by day and illuminate by night. The swirling patterns provide cyclists enough visibility after dusk, with minimal intrusion on local animal habitat. By incorporating lighting directly into the surface of the bicycle path, additional street lighting is unnecessary.
In a must-read in-depth feature on Roosegaarde published last month in Wired, Yves Béhar, the San Francisco-based entrepreneur and founder of design firm fuseproject said: “Designers can choreograph the world to make a statement or tell a story. The air, the wind, and the Earth are Roosegaarde’s canvas.”
Roosegaarde’s bike path project has already inspired the construction of a similar bike path using slightly different solar-sensitive materials in Poland, as shown below:
It is just a matter of time before more photoluminescent cycle paths appear in countries across the world. Studio Roosegaarde has already received enquires from Dubai, China and Turkey. This innovative project is part of a larger smart roads project in collaboration with Heijmans to create safer, more efficient roads using solar energy. I will write more about this important project in a future post, right here on Artists & Climate Change’s Renewable Energy Artworks monthly series.
Joan Sullivan is a renewable energy photographer based in Québec, Canada. Since 2009, Joan has focused her cameras (and more recently her drones) exclusively on solutions to climate change. She is convinced that the inevitable transition to a 100% clean energy economy will happen faster – and within our lifetimes – by creating positive images and stories that help us visualize and embrace what a post-carbon future will look like. Joan collaborates frequently with filmmakers on documentary films that explore the human side of the energy transition. She is currently working on a photo book about the energy transition. Her renewable energy photos have been exhibited in group shows in Canada and the UK. You can find Joan on Twitter and Instagram.