Glowing kites to light up dyke

6 pictures

The hope is for the kites to create a series of illuminated glowing lines rising into the sky

View gallery - 6 images

The Afsluitdijk (literally "enclosing dyke") is a 32-km (20-mi) long dyke and roadway that protects the Netherlands from flooding and connects the Dutch villages of Den Oever and Zurich. Having been completed in 1932, it is now in need of renovation and as part of the project, a series of art installations by Daan Roosegaarde will be put in place. The first will bring a high-flying glow over the length of the structure and provide an "electrifying" bonus feature as well.

Roosegaarde was asked by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to deliver a cultural element to the restoration project that would celebrate the dyke's beauty. Icoon Afsluitdijk, as the project is called, is aimed at creating "a subtle second layer of light and interaction enhancing Afsluitdijk's unique experience between man and landscape" and follows on from previous works by Roosegarde that have focused on connecting technology to the landscape, like Windlicht, Waterlicht and the Smog Free Tower.

The Icoon Afsluitdijk sub-projects, or chapters, will be split into three phases. They are to be revealed gradually and, according to Roosegarde, will increase in scale and ambition. The first chapter, which begins in September, focuses on history and energy harvesting.

Entitled "Windvogel," it will see illuminated energy-generating kites flown from the dyke. The Afsluitdijk is one of the darkest place in the Netherlands — in fact, driving along it at night plunges users in pitch blackness with water on both sides. Roosegarde tells Gizmag that, although he sees a beauty in this as it is, he hopes that the temporary installation of the kites will add another type of beauty for a short time.

Studio Roosegarde worked with Delft University and the University of Aachen to develop the kites for the project, which are made of lightweight plastic and have steel cables. Unlike conventional leisure kites, they are designed to stay in the air for several weeks and can be flown at altitudes of 150-300 m (492-984 ft), although at the Afsluitdijk it is more likely to be 150 m (492 ft) due to military exercises that are run nearby.

As the kites move in the air, a traction force is created in the cables that is then converted into electricity. It is possible to generate between 20 kW and 100 kW, with electricity produced relayed to the base stations to which they are attached on the ground.

In addition to showcasing this innovative means of harvesting energy, the installation will make use of a special coating that is charged by sunlight during the day and then glows in the dark, like that used for Roosegarde's glowing bike path. The result, it is hoped, will be a series of illuminated glowing lines rising into the sky.

The first phase will begin on September 2nd, with the dyke's road closed on September 4th for a charity run along its length. The whole program is due to last for more than two years. More permanent works are planned from next year.

The video below is an introduction to Icoon Afsluitdijk.

View gallery - 6 images

Top stories

Recommended for you

Latest in Architecture

Editors Choice