Over the next months we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com
Designer: Rune Kirt and Mads Thomsen
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Category: Speculative Objects/Concepts
Award: Professional Winner
KNARR is a wind turbine freight system by modern airship technology powered with solar energy. An alternative to existing heavy cargo freight systems - focusing on wind turbine. Transporting wind turbine parts up to 1000 tons from manufacture facilities to installation site with zero carbon emissions.
This project has sufficient impact to spark a societal debate. The current environmental challenges we are facing call for ground breaking , provocative yet realistic solutions. In our view, saving energy isn't about recession, but about optimization and, ultimately, intelligence. By combining wind energy—a beacon of renewable power—and a technology rooted in decades of innovation—airships—we aim at providing one of the constellation of proposals that will make the world a more energy efficient place.
Core77: How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
Rune: I was on holiday in France and at that time I was at the house of my parents in law in the countryside of Champagne. There was internet connection but I only had my iPad which couldn't show the live web announcement. So I decided to wait to later and just watched some French television until then. Suddenly my phone was ringing and I could see it was from my parent back in Denmark. Then I knew something might have gone the right way. But my mum had only watched the video without sound because the computer loudspeakers didn't work. She said: "They are showing your project in the end so I think you must be the winners!" Then I went to the website again and at this time the winning project was shown. It was the KNARR Cargo Airship. I got butterflies in my stomach and replied: " Yeees, mum, you are right—we have won!!!" At the same time I got a tackling from the side. It was my wife who give me a big hug and said: "I am picking up the champagne!"
Core77: What's the latest news or development with your project?
We have just established our own company—KirtThomsen—after having worked at the world's largest wind turbine manufacture for 2.5 years. Beside the nicknames the 'Air Captains' or in Danish 'Luftkaptajnerne' our experience from the wind industry have given us a thorough knowledge of what it take to handle oversized components such as wind turbines. And more importantly, what is the business case for using modern airship technology to handle wind turbines.
So the project is actually very realistic and it is still something we are very much working on. But that is confidential.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
When starting the project everybody around us were very skeptical and thought it was science-fiction. Our mentor and lector, Hugo Dines Schmidt, almost stopped us but after a good talk with him he was convinced that we had the energy and enthusiasm to make the project. Along the process he advised us to think about the process of transport handling and go out and talk with/watch/photo the real industry. After being at the docks of Arhus and at wind turbine producers we went all the way by train to South Germany from Denmark to visit the original Zeppelin company who's daughter firm Zeppelin NT started developing airships again in the late 1990s. Exhausted after 17-hour train ride, we meet with our contact—a very dedicated German engineer, Johannes Eissing—who showed us their very large airship hangar with an airship under construction and we were lucky to see them take out a full operating airship to fly tourists to the Swiss Alps and back again. Afterwards we showed him our ideas and he gave us some useful feedback from constructional and aerodynamical perspective. He recommended we visit the local Zeppelin museum which we did. At the museum were build full-scale sections of Hindenburg and other amazing things from the golden era of airships. It was a perfect tour to gave us a feeling of scale, construction, materials and experience of these whales of the sky. No book, websites or phone calls could have given the same inspiration and eye-opener.
When presenting the final result Hugo told us that he recalled the doubt which he had in the beginning of the project as to whether it was a good idea or not.
Now, everywhere we go the project attracts a lot of attention. It has even led us to exhibit in Japan (Design center in Tokyo and temple in Kyoto), German radio interview by Deutche Welle, article in Brazilian magazine and a presentation at TEDx Oresund among other things.