Who Says Power Plants Have To Be Ugly? This Sculpture Reinvents Wind Power As Art

In a new design for a Copenhagen park, the giant sails of the Windwaker sculpture gently gust in the wind–producing enough beauty to power 90 homes.

Wind turbines aren’t necessarily considered beautiful. Just ask the developers behind the offshore Cape Wind project, who have fought off opposition for 13 years–and 26 lawsuits–in part because some residents didn’t want the wind farm to spoil views. But in a new proposed design for a park in Copenhagen, the wind farm is art.


The Windwaker sculpture, which would transform a former shipyard in Copenhagen’s harbor, is one of the entries in this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative competition. The contest promotes new public art installations that double as large-scale clean energy generators.

It isn’t immediately obvious that the Windwaker produces energy. In the design, a series of giant sails, set throughout the park like a fleet of ships, gust in the wind. Every time the fabric blows, embedded “nanogenerators” bend, and that creates power. In total, the sculpture could generate around 840 megawatt-hours in a year, or enough to power about 90 homes.

“The original nanogenerator idea belongs to Zhong Lin Wan, and was designed to be used in clothes,” explains Spanish designer Miguel Ángel López, who created the Windwaker along with Julio Alejandro Romero Alonso. “This way, people’s movement would generate the energy. We have taken that idea and used it in a greater scale, not clothes but sails.”

The design was inspired by Copenhagen’s long history as a port city full of ships and was intended to reshape wind technology. “We wanted to use wind as a resource to produce energy, since the project is located near the coast,” López says. “We did not want to reproduce the traditional wind turbine that is so popular now, so we chose the wind’s kinetic aspect but in a different way.”

The designers hope that the design helps people reconsider the aesthetics of power. “The project tries to encourage people to realize how urban elements can generate energy, while they can also add other features to the city,” says López. “Besides lightning in the night, and a panorama view from the Little Mermaid, the sails create semi closed spaces inside the park…The idea was to create a new type of energy installation kinder in its relation to our culture and our customs and capable of generating points of interest wherever it is placed.”

The Land Art Generator Initiative will announce a winning design for the park on October 3.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.