As a result of the Our Energy Our Landscape design challenge, Dutch design studio VenhoevenCS, landscape architecture agency DS Landschapsarchitecten and solar energy firm Studio Solarix have developed the Butterfly Effect, a concept design that can produce energy and a safe route for insects.

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An overhead view of the stretch of road where the bridge will be placed.

At its core, the project creates a web that stretches over a Dutch highway to provide insects safe passage across the busy A67 motorway on the Strabrechtse Heide. The team claims that 85% of our food supply is dependent on insect pollination. They also see the importance of supporting biodiversity and battling climate change through a connection with nature. They say providing support for the smallest creatures may have the biggest “Butterfly Effect.” 

Related: Marjan van Aubel’s solar roof couples renewable energy with beauty

An overhead view showing an interlocking pattern of the bridge over the highway.

“A motorway forms a huge barrier for many insects as the vortexes and currents in the air caused by traffic are deadly to them,” VenhoevenCS architect and director Cécilia Gross told Dezeen.

A group of butterflies flying over the bridge/canopy.

The idea for Butterfly Effect came from watching butterflies, who would only cross the roadway during traffic jams when the air was still. Although the web was designed for use in the Netherlands, the team is excited at the prospect of applying it in other locations around the world. 

A translucent canopy over a highway.

In addition to providing a connection from one side of the road to the other without the threat of windshield impact, the netting uses the above-the-road space to create renewable energy. The honeycomb structure is designed to be filled with solar technology that creates energy. The webbing would be stretched across the roadway and attached to trees via steel columns on either side. Using the space above the motorway means less land is required for solar panels that do the same job. Technological innovation is presenting new options daily, including translucent photovoltaic surfaces that would be the basis for the solar collection on the webbing.

A drawing of the bridge, highlighting its honeycomb design.

The design of the Butterfly Effect funnels nitrogen and other soil-friendly particulates to the sides of the road, where they nurture the surrounding trees and other plants. This dense foliage creates a noise buffer for the nature reserve on the other side.

+ VenhoevenCS

Via Dezeen 

Images via VenhoevenCS, DS Landschaparchitecten and Studio Solarix