Dutch artist Theo Jansen has created the 10m long mechanical, walking ‘strandbeest’ (meaning beach animal) which is engineered from scrap plastic tubing and water bottles. The sculpture, along with associated exhibition and education project, is managed by SpaceX as part of an Arts Council funded Cultural Olympiad project.
This is the first time that one of Theo Jansen’s strandbeest sculptures will be seen on a beach in Britain. The 10m long and 4.5m high creation – named Ventosa Siamesis – takes the form of a twin structure with two creatures working together. Theo Jansen has taken inspiration from Darwinian evolution and used engineering principles to create sophisticated animal-like abilities. Complex articulated locomotion enables the strand best to walk, and sensory mechanisms allow it to respond to the environment. For example, if the wind is very strong, the strandbeest hammers its feet into the sand, and if the strandbeest goes too close to the sea, it can detect this and move in the opposite direction.
The strandbeest is made from the recycled plastic conduit for electric cables. It has no electronic elements and captures energy from the wind with wing-like sails which power its movement and store energy. The wind-driven sails compress air into reservoirs of recycled plastic bottles and this energy is released via piston mechanisms.