Lighting the city with nature

Swap streetlights with luminous trees – Daan Roosegaarde at SXSW from Dezeen on Vimeo.

A self-sufficient world is no longer a sci-fi concept, as proved by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde. His latest project, Glow-in-the-Dark Trees gives a world class example of design interacting with nature.

‘’What happens when technology jumps off the computer screen and becomes part of the things what we wear and the roads that we drive on?” asks Roosegaarde.

The answer is in his ambitions to implement design in urban daily life. Being on the forefront with his glow-in-the-dark highways, Roosegaarde pioneers the urban landscape by designing it to create its own light

The development involves replacing ordinary light fixtures with bioluminescent plants. A collaboration with the State University of New York and the biotech company Bioglow, the lights are inspired by luminescent biological organisms such like jellyfishes and fireflies.

But the concept is based on a scientific theory known as Biomimicry. The field involves simulating natural forms and processes to create and improve sustainable human technologies. In this project, biomimicry is used in the genetic modification of the molecular structure of plants, infusing them with luciferin, the light-producing compound found in glowing organisms.

With the creation of these small scale glow-in-the-dark specimens, Roosegaarde aims to develop light-emitting installations resembling luminescent trees. This new way of lighting city streets decreases demand on our energy resources, while at the same time providing people passing by with a magical experience.

“It will be incredibly fascinating to have these energy-neutral but at the same time incredibly poetic landscapes,” says Roosegaarde.

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