Three sculptures of mythical European creatures will get a new home in Altoona in spring 2020.

The city expects to install three steel troll sculptures, ranging from 4 to 6 feet tall, somewhere in the River Prairie development in May, said Altoona city Administrator Mike Golat.

City officials are mulling a location near badminton courts adjacent to a stream in the development, Golat said at a Nov. 14 City Council meeting.

The three trolls aren’t just a permanent decoration: When touched, the art features − dubbed “sound sculptures” − are planned to emit solar-powered light and “low, rhythmic sounds,” according to a design overview by Karl-Johan Ekeroth of PINPIN Studio based in Gothenburg, Sweden.

In European folklore, trolls turn to stone when exposed to sunlight, Golat said. From one side, the troll sculptures will look like large rocks; from other angles, visitors will be able to see the trolls lurking inside.

An Eau Claire solar company is collaborating with Ekeroth to build the trolls’ solar elements.

“In Scandinavian mythology, the trolls are sleeping inside of rocks in the woods during the day,” said Brian Graff, principal of business operations for Solar Forma, which designs artistic solar panel installations.

“When the kids touch certain surfaces of the sculpture, the eyes will glow,” Graff said. “If they do it in a certain combination or multiple kids are touching it, they’ll hear a groan come from the troll as it stirs awake.”

Graff said the designers were cautious of making the troll sculptures too intimidating, but with Wisconsin’s Scandinavian connections, “we felt we could safely introduce (sound and light) into it.”

The sculptures will cost $23,000, Golat told the Leader-Telegram Thursday. The Altoona City Council voted Nov. 14 to approve $8,000 from the city for the project, but it is largely funded by grants, he said: $10,000 from Union Pacific and $5,000 from Xcel Energy.

“We’re excited about this project,” Golat told the City Council Nov. 14.

Graff said Solar Forma — a joint effort between he and Greg Johnson, owner of Artisan Forge Metalworks in Eau Claire — was happy to collaborate with PINPIN Studio on the sculptures.

“We enjoy the sense of community found there, and if there’s a way we can contribute to enhancing the sense of community that space provides, we want to be a part of it,” Graff said.

PINPIN Studio in Sweden primarily designs interactive children’s play spaces, according to its website.





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