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March 31, 2014 AT 2:00 am

Swapping Streetlights with Luminous Trees

Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch designer captivated by the merging worlds of nature and technology, is developing a plan to replace traditional streetlights with glowing plants and trees in an on-site installation, from dezeen.

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde is exploring ways of using the bio-luminescent qualities of jellyfish and mushrooms to create glow-in-the-dark trees that could replace street lights.

In this movie filmed at SXSW in Austin, Roosegaarde explains how: “In the last year I really became fond of biomimicry.”

“What can we learn from nature and apply to the built environment, to roads, to public spaces, to our urban landscape?” asks Roosegaarde.

Biomimicry is the method of imitating models and systems found in nature to solve complex design issues. One of the biological phenomena that fascinated Roosegaarde was how animals like jellyfish and fireflies generate their own light.

“When a jellyfish is deep, deep underwater it creates its own light,” he says. “It does not have a battery or a solar panel or an energy bill. It does it completely autonomously. What can we learn from that?”

Roosegaarde’s interest in biomimicry led him to collaborate with the State University of New York and Alexander Krichevsky, whose technology firm Bioglow unveiled genetically modified glow-in-the-dark plants earlier this year.

Krichevsky creates the glowing plants by splicing DNA from luminescent marine bacteria to the chloroplast genome of a common houseplant, so the stem and leaves emit a faint light similar to that produced by fireflies and jellyfish.

Roosegaarde is now working on a proposal to use a collection of these plants for a large-scale installation designed to look like a light-emitting tree.

Glowing Tree Roosegaarde Dezeen 644

Read more.


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