Thirty years after Denmark built the first offshore wind farm, it’s pioneering another energy first: creating an artificial island expected to generate enough wind power for the country’s entire grid, plus other parts of Europe. Slated to be operational in 2033, the DKK210 billion Danish Energy Agency facility is the largest construction project in the country’s history. And the North Sea hub could also provide a blueprint for other coastal nations looking for alternatives to traditional land-gobbling renewable energy infrastructure.
9th Most Influential Project of 2021
By collaborating with brands and environmental changemakers including the Woodland Trust and WWF, luxury department store Selfridges is advancing a bold five-year plan to highlight how the fashion biz as a whole can deliver real positive social impact. With Project Earth, Selfridges has committed to transitioning to certified, sustainable sources for those materials with the greatest environmental impact by 2025. For instance, all feathers used in products such as duvets and eyelash extensions will be byproducts of poultry production. In the first year, Selfridges bestowed its Project Earth label on 9,000 products, meaning they meet the company’s sustainability requirements.
31st Most Influential Project of 2021
Governments and scientists have been dreaming of it for decades: a large-scale quantum internet that would open the aperture on a range of applications, like unhackable communications, cloud computing with complete privacy and warp-speed computations. In April, a team at Dutch research center QuTech—a collaboration between Delft University of Technology and TNO—made a significant leap: Using a complex system of mirrors and laser light to create a rudimentary quantum network by connecting three independent nodes across 10 to 20 meters (32 to 66 feet). The team now is working on a project to make a link between greater distances: connecting Delft and The Hague, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) apart. Researchers are also working on adding more quantum bits to their network and eventually making it more accessible.
36th Most Influential Project of 2021
When government leaders in Helsinki dangled a €1 million prize for “radically new energy solutions,” Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) went bold. The Italian design firm conjured up Hot Heart, a floating archipelago of basins that act as giant thermal batteries—and a recreational destination. In an era of offshore wind and solar farms, Hot Heart’s tech advantage is an AI-fueled system designed to synchronize production and consumption. The CRA team achieved this by working with a global cohort of experts from Ramboll, Transsolar , Danfoss, Schneider Electric, OP Financial Group, Schlaich Bergermann Partner and Squint/Opera.
39th Most Influential Project of 2021
For some of the 26 million people with heart failure, a transplant is the best option—which can mean waiting years for a donor. French medical device maker Carmat has been working on a solution since its founding in 2008, finally unveiling Aeson, an artificial heart that can replace the whole organ for up to six months. The device could bridge a massive gap: Among the 1.3 million people with advanced-stage heart disease, only 5,500 receive a transplant each year. Collaborating with technological experts from Airbus Group, Carmat developed the unit’s lining from preserved bovine pericardium tissue, which has been used for heart valve replacement and can help reduce the risk of blood clots or strokes in implant patients. The European Union approved the device in December 2020, and in July, surgeons completed the first implants in patients in Italy, Germany and the United States.
43rd Most Influential Project of 2021
As part of its strategy to bring in new customers, Pandora developed an entirely lab-created diamond jewelry collection. The project was a direct response to increasing concern from consumers—especially younger ones—who have criticized the environmental toll and poor labor conditions considered part and parcel of mined diamonds. The lab-grown diamonds are also made with more than 60 percent renewable energy. And when the collection goes global next year, Pandora expects to be using 100 percent renewable energy.
46th Most Influential Project of 2021
Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is on a mission to reinvent a bygone mode of travel by creating its own more eco-friendly take on airships. Airlander 10 will produce just a fraction of the emissions of conventional airplanes, with reduced fuel burn, noise levels and turbulence. But the team isn’t skimping on luxury: The 100-seat, hybrid-electric air vehicle will offer floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows set inside a blimp-like exterior. And because it’s designed to take off and land anywhere, the Airlander 10 will mean passengers can skip all that wait time at the airport. The company has already lined up some impressive support, receiving backing from the European Union, U.K. government and U.S. Department of Defense.
47th Most Influential Project of 2021
The largest expedition of its kind, the MOSAiC research mission brought a total of 442 researchers, crewmembers and others from more than three dozen countries to the northernmost parts of the planet to collect an unprecedented trove of atmospheric, marine and ice data. Centered around Polarstern, a massive icebreaker ship, the expedition marked the first time scientists were able to study ice and weather in the region in any climate and season, including frigid, dark winters. Led by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, the €150 million collaboration is designed to help scientists draw better global climate models.
Sixteen years after shuttering its doors, luxury Parisian retailer Samaritaine reopened for business in June, following an extensive €750 million revamp that turns the space into a mixed-used development. Helmed by LVMH and its retail subsidiary DFS Group, the project drew big-name creatives, including Canadian interior specialists Yabu Pushelberg, local creative agency Malherbe Paris and Japanese architecture studio Sanaa, along with Vinci Construction France. To manage the redesign and renovation of the five-building complex, the team had to ensure the project wasn’t just a paean to past Parisian glamour but would also pull in modern shoppers. The latter meant prioritizing flexibility and multi-functionality in the store’s design, an essential survival tactic for retailers.
Rembrandt’s The Night Watch is viewed as an artistic masterpiece, and has a prominent place of honor at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. But it’s incomplete. In 1715, the work was trimmed to fit in the town hall—with a full 2 feet (61 centimeters) lopped off one side. Now, for the first time in more than 300 years, it can be seen as it’s believed the painter intended. Using high-res scans, the museum’s lead scientist trained a computer to learn the artist’s unique style using convolutional neural networks, a class of AI algorithms designed to help computers make sense of images. Then, with the help of another painter’s 17th century copy of the original, the tech could recreate the missing pieces. They were printed on canvas, varnished to match and hung alongside the original in June.