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Making green fun in Germany, as well as functional.

Powerland Berlin: Avant-garde green
September 20, 2011 - 5:38pm

BERLIN — A crop of designers from Berlin are working on what tomorrow’s green technologies might look like.

In Germany’s funky capital city, long renowned for its creative vibe, these artists have designed devices that rethink how we interact with our environment.

Their innovations are not just playful, but also produce electricity Hans-Peter Kadel and Myriel Milicevic — aka, the “Energy Harvesters” — make a point of inventing devices that are functional but that don’t look too serious or scientific.

For the Energy Harvesters, the whole idea is if green technologies are to spread, they need to be fun.

They tap into energy leaks around the city — at train stations, for instance, they’ve installed small portable windmills to capture the gusts of wind that occur when a train passes by. The energy generated can help charge a battery.

A crazy idea? Not too crazy for Berlin, apparently.The city's subway authorities loved it, and commissioned 10 large-scale wind turbines of their for a one-month experiment. 

Then there's Henrik Mayer.

A native of East Germany, Mayer was only 18 years old when the Wall fell, and says by then he was already a free thinker. Putting that creativity to work, he came up with the concept of a gym that produces power and feeds the city’s grid, drawing on the energy that exercisers generate when they ride stationary bikes or pump iron.

He tried it in his favorite Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg — a section of West Berlin that was previously isolated from by the Wall. For Mayer, using gym equipment and exercises to produce electricity was only a starting point. He’s looking to implement his concept in other cities.

The goal: make these “avant-garde” green concepts mainstream.

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