Chasing the Wind

As rendered, a strangely organic yet unfamiliar form stretches across a valley on Russia’s Lake Ladoga and sweeps down into the water, seeming to take a deep breath along the way. This unconventional structure is London-based Chetwood Associates’ attempt to shift the definition of a wind-energy source. “We want to concentrate and capture the wind to get a much more efficient transfer of energy from wind to the turbine to electricity,” says project architect Laurie Chetwood, who is collaborating with structural-engineering firm WSP Finland.

To be made from semitransparent Kevlar (the tough material often used for sails and bulletproof vests), the wind dam will be tethered to the hillside with stainless-steel cables and aluminum supports. All told, the structure, set to be built sometime between now and 2010, will rise 164 feet high and span 246 feet. When asked about the form’s inspiration, Chetwood refers to barn owls, a flock of birds, and manta rays. “I can’t stand the idea of putting up something that is only functional,” he explains, “so we’ve tried to make it as organic as possible.”

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