by Urban Radicals and Adam Harris


“What are the roots that clutch,
what branches grow out of this stony rubbish”

- T.S. Elliot, The Waste Land

Wind energy has developed rapidly over the last two decades to become one of the most promising resources in the world. While renewable energy from wind turbines continues to gain ground over fossil fuels, it also produces a large amount of waste turbine blades that currently end up buried in landfills, as the material is not easily recycled. With each wind turbine blade having an average life span of 20 years, these wind turbine blade graveyards begin to almost resemble a post-apocalyptic terrain; the barren wastelands that have started to expand across our rural landscapes, growing by the year. Indeed, it is predicted that by 2050 we will be dealing with more than 43 million tonnes of blade waste, which will contribute to serious environmental problems unless proper solutions can be found.
While researchers are working on making these incredible power producing structures more long lasting and recyclable, as designers we can already begin to visualise and push to implement solutions for upcycling our infrastructural-scale ‘waste’.

1. Windflower | Photography by Luke O'Donovan ©

Windflower on Exhibition Road, London, repurposes a 50m long section of a decommissioned wind turbine blade into street furniture and planters, raised above the ground to attract wild pollinators like bees from the nearby Hyde Park, while hopefully demonstrating what is possible in terms of construction and infrastructural upcycling that meaningful policy can enable.

2. Windflower | Photography by Luke O'Donovan ©

3. Windflower | Photography by Luke O'Donovan ©

The 2050 global climate action foresees a clean and efficient future in the way we build our cities. Not only do we need to follow new protocols for constructing infrastructures and homes, but we need to radically rethink how to re-use our existing infrastructures and upcycle components. We need to stop looking at products that have reached the end of their lifecycle as waste and start seeing them as resource opportunities. This can only happen when cross-disciplinary collaborations and industries such as that of building and energy convene on an infrastructural or global level to resolve problems and propose creative beyond the localised.
Windflower aims to open up a discussion for the afterlife of these large power-producing structures and add value to what was to be waste and via design propose a new purpose.


Urban Radicals↩ and Adam Harris

*With thanks to: Goethe-Institut London, Discover South Kensington, London Festival of Architectur, ORE Catapult, Fabrication: Design & Making