I came upon this story on my local birding list this morning. It’s a Discovery News piece about Windstalks — windmill alternatives — designed for the automobile-free, green city of Masdar, outside of Abu Dhabi. Windstalks, conceived by the New York firm Atelier DNA, won second place in the 2010 Land Art Generator competition which rewards art projects that also generate renewable energy. (Click for photos.)

Here’s an excerpt from the project description, from the Atelier DNA website:

“Our project starts out as a desire, a whisper, like grasping at straws, clenching water. Our project takes clues from the way the wind sways a field of wheat, or reeds in a marsh. Our project 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 the poles are 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 idea and execution is inspired. It evokes the visceral connection I have to cattails and wetlands … and the sound of wind pulsing through the reeds in the hours I sit still with my camera. I couldn’t imagine what project could have beat out this one for Winner #1, but I had to check it out. It turns out #1 was the Lunar Cubit. Modeled after the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Cubit is a solar-power generator that honors the moon phases in design and nightly illuminations. (A 2010 New York Times piece discusses the concept of Land Art Generator in more detail.)

This video shows the concept of Masdar City, designed with low environmental impact and ecological harmony in mind:

My interest in Windstalks, in particular, relates to birds and injury reduction. During my early years at the wildlife hospital, I accessioned my first windmill victim … an eagle with a severed wing. This bird was collected at

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