Kinetic Light and Sound Installation at Kraftwerk Birsfelden



The kinetic light and sound installation 'Wirbelstrom' was shown from July to October 2014 in the iconic machine hall of the Kraftwerk Birsfelden. It poetically brought to the surface aspects of the hydropower plant that remain otherwise hidden from the eyes: By means of rotation, light and sound it visualised the power of water streaming through the turbines and showed its diversity in a fascinating play between movement and reflexion. iart conceived and realised the installation on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Kraftwerk Birsfelden.


'Wirbelstrom' showed the entire range from the gentle headwater to the immense vortex-force and the thunderous discharge into the Rhine river. Rotating panels of fabric above the turbines turned into shimmering reflective surfaces. And the dynamic use of light created moments that visualised the energy and transformation of water running through the power plant.


In addition, the large window facade of the machine hall was put into vibration to generate sounds interpreting the movement inside. They brought the building to life and let it become part of the audio-visual installation. In realising the sound installation, iart collaborated with composer Benedikt Schiefer.


The first machine group was commissioned at Kraftwerk Birsfelden in 1954. Today it generates sustainable energy for approximately 180,000 households, making it the largest Swiss hydropower plant. It provides up to 20% of the power requirements of the greater Basel area.

  • Opening


  • Location


  • Client

    Kraftwerk Birsfelden AG

  • Partner

    Benedikt Wolfgang Schiefer

  • Services

    Lighting DesignTechnical PlanningPrototypingMechanics DevelopmentElectronics DevelopmentAudiovisual Production

  • Photos & Video Footage

    Mark Niedermann

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