Cambridge, MA
Interactive wind-powered light installation
2,000 sf
Credit List:
Höweler + Yoon Architecture, Eric Höweler, J. Meejin Yoon

Windscreen is a temporary installation whose integrated functional and aesthetic properties seek to transform public opinion and public behavior by foregrounding energy use as well as the means of production and consumption. Composed of an architectural-scale screen of multiple micro-turbines, Windscreen generates and consumes energy harvested from the wind, translating wind speed into a visual register and indexing the abundance of this replenishable energy source. The subtle air currents sweeping across the proposed site will create kinetic patterns of form and light, rendering visible a phenomenon that is largely invisible.

Responsive in real-time to environmental conditions, Windscreen’s level of illumination corresponds to the wind velocity powering each turbine. Taking into account differences based on their location, wind strength, and wind direction, each turbine is calibrated in size and porosity. Based on the same formal logic, each unit thus demonstrates an underlying formal affinity while expressing slight variation. Ultimately, though, each turbine functions in the same way. An LED light is incorporated in the turbine’s vertical-axis cable, and this light responds directly to the speed at which its housing turbine spins. As the wind blows stronger and the turbines spin faster, the lights illuminate more brightly. This “direct-drive” application need not transfer or store energy: energy is consumed as soon as it is produced, always balancing the equation.

Installed at and promoted by a major non-profit cultural institution, Windscreen recognizes the timeliness of a focus on energy consumption and production and raises awareness of these themes through performance and public participation.