dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano
dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano
oct 23, 2013

dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano

dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano
image courtesy renzo piano building workshop


testing has begun on the mini-wind-turbine blade designed by the genoese architect renzo piano and developed in partnership with ENEL green power, an italian multinational renewable energy corporation, at the molinetto test field, in the province of pisa (which is also home to the ENEL research center).






 dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano


the way a dragonfly remains stable in flight is being mimicked to develop wind turbines to withstand gale-force winds

image courtesy renzo piano building workshop



the new slim-line, two-blade turbine is less visible than the traditional three-blade design, to the extent that it is difficult to detect in the landscape, but it has also shown itself to be capable of functioning well in low-intensity wind.
wind turbines have to work well in light winds but must avoid spinning too fast when a storm hits. to get round this problem, larger turbines use either specially designed blades that stall at high speeds or computerized systems that sense wind speed and adjust the angle of the blade in response. this technology is fairly expensive for use with small-scale turbines, though, because they don’t produce enough electricity to offset the cost. that’s where dragonflies come in.



dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano

constructed to take advantage of lightweight and resilient composite materials (carbon, polycarbonate), the dragonfly is able to harness even the lightest breezes, requiring winds of only 2m/second to power it more or less continuously. this also means that it can be installed successfully at low altitudes.

image courtesy renzo piano building workshop





dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano

the turbine blade with transparent plexiglass panels, intended to show off the carbon structure inside
image courtesy renzo piano building workshop




dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano

side view

image courtesy renzo piano building workshop



the turbine has been designed to have a minimal visual impact and has only two blades, rather than the more usual three. when the turbine is not turning, the blades align vertically with the mast. in the total absence of wind, the turbine is capable of blending perfectly into the surrounding environment, being reduced to the slim vertical line of the tower which is 20 m (65 ft) high and barely 35 cm (13 inches) in diameter, and the two aligned, vertical blades with a diameter of only 16 m (52 ft).



dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano


image courtesy renzo piano building workshop




project image

the slim, 35cm-diameter mast stands only 20m high, and is secured to the ground with cables

image courtesy renzo piano building workshop



in only two months, the prototype has generated over 1200 KW·h which have been fed into the distribution grid. rumour has it that mass production for the italian market will begin on completion of the test phase, which is due to continue for another few months. the new mini-wind-turbine blade is part of a strategy for innovation that targets improving the performance of all the renewable technologies, making them more available and less prone to problems linked to the intermittency of wind power. the aim is ever greater integration of renewable resources in heavily populated areas, thanks to the deployment of more compact machines with lower visual impact, within both the natural, and architectural environment. it is worth noticing, though, that even without the blades designed by a famous architect, wind turbines do not decrease the value of the adjacent residential property.



dragonfly invisible wind turbine designed by renzo piano

image courtesy renzo piano building workshop





client: ENEL green power SpA

design team: renzo piano building workshop, architects /s. scarabicchi, e. donadel (partner and associate in charge), m. rossato piano

consultants: this project has benefited from contributions from studio favero & milan in venice, (structural, consulting executive architects for the final design), and metalsystem of rovereto /near trento, (for mechanical service engineering and construction).

  • invisible?

    Q says:
  • u want it to be somewhat visible, so birds don’t fly into it. And it does generate loud low frequency sound that decrease you property value.

    mzungu says:
  • Sorry, but how is this thing invisible?

    idle_crane says:
  • invisible?? because there are 2 and not 3 blades???? if there was an image of the front to suport this wold help….but…imagine a field full of wind turbines…

    manuel says:
  • how much does it cost?

    greg says:
  • Agreed. Invisible? A big deal to go throwing the term around.

    Ron Smith says:
  • Not in the least bit invisible, that’s a given. However, It could be interesting to call upon architects and designers to produce wind turbines that work both functionally and aesthetically. If they serve as cultural and architectural landmarks, they’d certainly add to any community or landmark rather than subtract from it.

    Sometimes, the purpose of architecture is to simply provide good PR for technical innovation. How else would you justify the Eiffel Tower or the Crystal Palace ? And for you modernists out there, I’d like to remind you that Le Corbusier’s Philips Pavilion in brussels is also a demonstrative building rather than an manifestation of cold functionalism.

    tl; dr : sustainability isn’t always about input vs; output, sometimes you need to build something local residents would want to preserve in the long run rather than replace it, a famous autograph could achieve that.

    Romain M. says:
  • O.M.G. I read the posts of the idiots who have posted before me and hear the echos of the same moron’s who have generated the same B.S. in the 60’s, 70’s and til today. Grrr they make me so mad!! This is a thing of beauty. And is a thing of beauty to boot. All of the points they made were valid 30 years ago . Today the designs are so tomorrow, the wind and the sun are the future. The Turbine design has come so far, the blades are built longer to move slower, to generate greater power combined with the change of design of the tower to discourage nesting (l80’s) and not building in migration paths Turbines have come a long way.

    Janice Cerda says:
  • This design is such a cool idea — form and function. Hope to see it in the field soon.

    BobH says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
503,120 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine