Daan Roosegaarde’s Glow-in-the-Dark Trees

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What if you and your loved ones never again had to worry about walking down a dark street with burnt-out streetlights and no way of seeing who or what was approaching you?

Dutch designer and innovator Daan Roosegaarde has developed all sorts of revolutionary inventions that fuse art and technology, including a smog vacuum cleaner big enough to clean a park, interactive and sustainable highways (!) and high-tech garments that turn transparent when the wearer becomes aroused, just to name a few.

One of his more recent projects involves a large-scale installation composed of light-emitting trees posed as street lamps.

Inspired by biomimicry—the method of imitating models and systems found in nature to solve complex design issues—Roosegaarde and his studio have partnered with the State University of New York and scientist Alexander Krichevsky, whose technology firm, Bioglow, successfully genetically modified glow-in-the-dark plants earlier this year.


The idea is to imitate the bioluminescent properties of creatures like jelly fish and fireflies. Krichevsky creates his glowing plants by joining DNA from luminescent marine bacteria to the chloroplast genome of a small plant, one that doesn’t illuminate, resulting in a feint glow from the stem and leaves.

Roosegaarde wants to use this technique to create larger trees that glow and use them to replace street lighting. As of right now, it’s still in the proposal phase.

Roosegaarde also presented a lecture at this year’s South by Southwest film festival, titled “Smart Landscapes of the Future” where he discussed the key to his accomplishments—his Dutch attitude of artist-entrepreneur.

We’ll keep you posted as the project develops. You can read more here.




Category: Technology