Published on March 20, 2014
WINDSTALK Atelier dna (collaborative design laboratory)
Windstalk starts out as a desire, a whisper, like grasping at straws, clenching water. It takes clues from the way the wind sways a field of wheat, or reeds in a marsh.
Windstalk consists of 1203 stalks, 55 meters high, anchored on the ground with concrete bases that range between 10 to 20 meters in diameter. The stalks are made of carbon fiber reinforced resin poles, 30 cm in diameter at the base and 5 cm at the top.
The top 50 cm of each pole is lit up by an LED lamp that glows and dims depending on how much the poles are swaying in the wind.
When there is no wind–when the poles are still–the lights go dark.
The bases that support the poles are laid along the site following a logarithmic spiral, the kind we see in the center of a sunflower. The bases all touch each other, forming a kind of carpet, a kind of fabric.
The bases are shaped like vortices–no two vortices are identical–when it rains, the rain water slides down the slopes of the bases to collect in the spaces between, concentrating scarce water. Here, plants can grow wild.
Within each hollow pole is a stack of piezoelectric ceramic rods. Between the rods are electrodes. Every other electrode is connected to each other by a cable that reaches from top to bottom of each pole. One cable connects the even electrodes, and another cable connects the odd ones. When the wind sways the poles, the stack of piezoelectric rods is forced into compression, thus generating a current through the electrodes.
force force Current (Piezoelectricity /piˌeɪzoʊˌilɛkˌtrɪsɪti/ is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials—notably crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins—in response to applied mechanical stress.)
Within each concrete base is a hollow chamber that houses a torque generator. The generator converts the kinetic energy of the swaying poles into electrical energy by way of an array of current-generating shock absorbers. The shock absorbers convert energy produced by the forced movement of fluid through the shock absorber’s cylinders.
The electricity that Windstalk generates isn’t constant, it depends on the wind. To compensate, we make a kind of battery, a capacitor, a way to store energy:
Below the field of poles are two very large chambers, chambers as large as the whole site. The chambers are shaped like the bases of the poles but inverted, then inverted again, and again and once more. There’s an upper chamber and a lower one beneath. When the wind blows, part of the electricity generated powers a set of pumps, the pumps move water from the lower chamber to the upper one. When the air is still–when there is no wind–the water from the upper chamber flows down again turning the pumps into generators.
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