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The Wind Portal by Najla El Zein

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The Wind Portal by designer Najla El Zein is an interactive artwork of 5,000 hand-folded paper windmills installed in an imposing 8 ft. doorway inside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  Visitors can pass through the hand-folded windmills as they move from the old part of the museum into a new extension, the Day-lit Gallery, which currently showcases preserved fragments of the city from the Medieval Renaissance. The Wind Portal is part of the London Design Festival, and will be on display through November 3, 2013.


This walk-through installation creates a playful airway, drawing wind and light into the galleries beyond.

wind portal najla el zein

Najla describes her work: “The Wind Portal is a walk through installation that represents a transition space from an inside to an outside area. It defines an exaggeration of a specific sensorial moment that each one of us experiences throughout our daily lives.
Wind, and sound, are the elements that makes us understand our environmental context.

Through The Wind Portal installation, shaped as a monumental gate of 8 meters high and composed of thousands of paper windmills that spin thanks to an integrated wind system, the aim was to make our visitors feel, hear and be aware of the action of transitioning through two spaces.

wind portal najla el zein

The wind portal tries to grasp and emphasize on common emotions and senses that are often forgotten.  Its architectural shape works as a “trompe oeil” effect which, according to the angle you are positioned from, one would perceive the gate as being closed. As soon as you approach it, the gate seems to open up.”

The installation blends in different technologies and materials such as hand-folded paper windmills, hand sculpted wooden joints, 3d printed clips, and a complex wind and light computerized system.

wind portal najla el zein

Different flows of wind are programmed resulting into different speeds, sounds and feelings. The light, which seems to play with the wind flow, gives us an impression of a breathing piece. Indeed, the gate breathes in and out, where wind is its main source of life.

Studio team: Najla El Zein, Dina Mahmoud, Sarah Naim, Sara Moundalek.
Lighting designer and automation: Maurice Asso, Hilights
Commissioned by: V&A Museum

The movie is showing Najla’s 5,000 spinning paper windmills being installed in a doorway at the V&A museum in London:

Photography and films are courtesy of Najla El Zein Studio.

Learn more about the The Victoria and Albert Museum here.

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