On older buildings, it's not too uncommon to see the crowning touch of an ornamental weather vane -- a rotation device which indicates the wind's direction. But what happens when a bunch of weather vanes are put together on the same surface? That's the question that American artist Charles Sowers answers with Windswept, a kinetic installation of 612 aluminium weather vanes placed on the facade of San Francisco's Randall Museum -- and revealing surprising results, as you can see in this video from Dezeen.
Windswept seeks to transform a mundane and uninspired architectural façade (the blank wall of the theatre) into a large scale aesthetic/scientific instrument, to reveal information about the interaction between the site and the wind.
Our ordinary experience of wind is as a solitary sample point of a very large invisible phenomenon. Windswept is a kind of large sensor array that samples the wind at its point of interaction with the Randall Museum building and reveals the complexity and structure of that interaction.
A knowledge and understanding of local patterns of wind, weather and water flows make up what some call "ecological literacy" (there's even a simple test you can take). And while most modern buildings don't reflect or register these contextual facts in their design, it's encouraging to see some synthesizing science with architecture to make a bioregional awareness more evident to all. More over at Charles Sowers' website and the Randall Museum.