Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Saturday, 15 November 2008

Tower of power lights up London

By Flora Graham
Technology reporter, BBC News

Aeolian Tower, Alastair Fyfe
The Aeolian Tower stands next to Waterloo Bridge (Alastair Fyfe)

Artists are lighting up London's South Bank with 1200 wind-powered lights as part of a digital arts festival.

The Aeolian tower - which means moved by the wind - is a 15m steel structure located next to Waterloo Bridge.

The tower is covered with hundreds of tiny wind-powered LEDs. Each one made of a plastic turbine, controlling circuits and three red LEDs.

The designers aim to show how renewable energy can be used to power sustainable art and design.

As wind blows over the tower, swirling patterns of light reveal the strength and direction of the breeze.

"We want to visualize the invisible, making people realize that there's a lot of energy out there that we're not using," said Zena Bruges from Jason Bruges Studio, which designed the tower.

The designers chose the location next to Waterloo Bridge because of the complex wind patterns that come off the River Thames and the bridge, said Gabby Shawcross, one of the tower's creators.

The lights need a gentle wind of about 3mph (4.8kph) to reach full brightness.

A 2.5m square panel of lights is also on show inside the BFI delegate centre. Since the panel is indoors, the lights are powered with two industrial fans.

These lights are connected to a laptop, which controls the lights so that they can display patterns and messages.

"The result of this could be a low-resolution, wind-powered billboard," said Ms Bruges.

The team is working with architecture students from the University of Westminster to develop a wireless version of the technology that will allow the lights to be controlled remotely.

These lights wouldn't need power or data cables, so designers could apply them to any surface in any location, said Mr Shawcross.

The Aeolian Tower will be in place from 14 -16 November as part of the One Dot Zero - Adventure In Motion festival at the BFI Southbank in London.

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