The Butterfly Effect

(NL), 2021



As part of the Our Energy Our Landscape design challenge, a multidisciplinary team comprised of VenhoevenCS, DS landschapsarchitecten, and Studio Solarix developed a unique and innovative proposal that generates renewable energy while restoring natural connective routes for wildlife. The design for an ultra-light web over the motorway was created for the challenge location in the Netherlands, but it can easily be applied to other sites to become an important part of the sustainability of infrastructure and transport projects globally. This proposal offers a helping hand to small-scale ecosystems and in so doing contributes to a large-scale approach to climate change and biodiversity loss, hence The Butterfly Effect.

Insects as a starting point for design

VenhoevenCS, DS, and Studio Solarix have jointly used their expertise, drive and creativity to develop a design for a sustainable future. They believe that designs aimed at tackling climate change and biodiversity loss should be nature-inclusive. They chose insects as the starting point for the project as working on the smallest scale can create the biggest impact. Insects create the biological foundation for all ecosystems and they are also an essential link in the food chain: 85% of our food is dependent on insect pollination. Building a treetop-level crossing for insects over the motorway can help to restore important natural connective routes.

Double use of space above the motorway

The ‘web over the motorway’ offers a huge surface area on which to generate renewable energy. Thanks to its honeycomb structure, the lightweight crossing can be filled with materials that generate solar energy. The gossamer web is also modular, so it can grow and evolve in line with technical innovations. This double use of space above the motorway means that less of the landscape needs to be set aside for solar panels, which would negatively affect biodiversity.

Trees as noise buffers

The crossing ensures that nitrogen and particulates are released into the soil closer to the motorway. This enriches the soil along the motorway and allows trees to grow there. A zone of dense forest reduces noise in the nature reserve behind.

Aesthetic experience

Eye-catching shadow patterns and variations in colours and materials create a unique experience for motorists passing under the crossing.

Partners wanted for pilot project

Combining natural ecosystems with energy generation is a principle that can be applied globally: not only on the project site at the Strabrechtse Heide heath, but also near other nature reserves or along railway tracks. The expert panel who watched the online presentation of The Butterfly Effect were full of praise about the project. VenhoevenCS, DS landschapsarchitecten, and Studio Solarix are looking for a motivated partner to complete a first pilot project.

Read the manifest at our Vision & Research Page.

Related News & Media


Name: The Butterfly Effect
Assignment: Research by design
Period: 2021
Status: Completed
Client: Kunstloc Brabant, Staatsbosbeheer, het Groene Woud
Publications: Dezeen Architectenweb ArchDaily


VenhoevenCS: Cécilia Gross, Hermen Jansen, Jos-Willem van Oorschot, Caspar Lysen, Yann Trégoat, Timothée Pignoux, Grzegorz Balinski, Maria Boletou, Arian Shahverdi
Partner architect:DS Landschapsarchitecten, Studio Solarix
Images: VenhoevenCS