In a bid to clamp down on the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) opposition to wind farms, international design collective Prototype 2030 has created a two-part proposal that would turn wind turbines into interactive public art. The first part of the design, dubbed Windwords, proposes reshaping wind turbines into giant letters to create landmarks representative of the community. To further empower communities with wind farms, the designers suggest allowing local residents to share in the profits and control the wind turbines through a smartphone app.

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tall, red wind turbines

Inspired by community-oriented design processes for public infrastructure, Prototype 2030 believes that the way to wider acceptance of wind farms and wind turbines begins with neighborhood-centered design. The Windwords proposal takes cues from the Hollywood sign and the IAMSTERDAM letters, which are not only iconic landmarks in their respective cities but also attract attention from tourists.

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red wind turbines spelling out the word "Future"

“Our point is not, of course, that every wind turbine has to be turned into a giant letter,” the collective explained. “Every site and community is different and will present different needs and opportunities. Big pink words will not be the solution every time. The real lesson is that wind farms need to be designed to mean something to humans — because they do, to neighbors and passersby. Right now, what they say is usually not what we want to hear. They need to be designed to speak human.”

rendering of person pressing button on a wind turbine app
rendering of phones with app interface that controls nearby wind turbines

To further humanize the relationship between wind farms and communities, the designers have also proposed Windswitch, a smartphone app that would allow local residents to share in the profits from wind energy. The app would also give users the opportunity to “influence the turbines in their backyard” by trading previous earnings in as credits to temporarily pause a wind turbine.

+ Prototype 2030

Images by Prototype 2030