Twisting Skyscraper Uses Wind to Power Itself

Some have called the idea outlandish. A better word seems to be insane. And yet, Dynamic Architecture, a company in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, is marching ahead with their plans for a skyscraper powered by wind turbines.

The buildings look like a carnival attraction, and might make you dizzy just looking at them. Each of the 59 floors is rotating unevenly around a central concrete core. Wind turbines are stacked horizontally between each floor, so that when exposed to the atmosphere 50 or 100 or 500 feet off the ground, the wind turns the turbines, generating electricity for the buildings’ use—and more.

These buildings might soon dot the skyline of Dubai, making the city the first to display the revolutionary—and energy efficient—so-called "dynamic architecture."

From the energy point of view, the building is an independent and aesthetic source of alternative energy. Each turbine generates 0.3 megawatts of electricity, so that the building’s 50 total turbines can generate 1,200,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. As an average family’s annual power consumption is about 24,000 kilowatt-hours, each turbine can supply energy for about 50 families. The tower will have 200 apartments, which will use just four of the turbines for their energy needs. Another four of the remaining 44 turbines would provide power to the neighborhood of the building, and there would still be 40 extra turbines, which could supply power for 5-10 more buildings.

How safe would it be to live on a floor rotating 58 stories above the ground? Dynamic Architecture, the company building these structures, says that they’re actually safer from earthquakes than normal skyscrapers because each unit is independent and flexibly moves with the wind.

At first, the idea may sound extremely expensive. Actually, architect David Fisher, well-known for his restoration projects in New York and Italy, uses a revolutionary construction process to reduce costs. Only the central core (which contains the elevators, plumbing and other utilities) is built on site, while each floor is prefabricated in a factory, reducing construction time and maximizing cost-effectiveness and quality control. The floors are then assembled from the top down, hoisted up on the central core at a rate of one floor in three days. Combined with solar panels, the wind turbines could produce about $7 million of surplus electricity per year, making the design a potentially profitable long-term investment.

But, of course, much of the funding for this project would likely come from the UAE’s fortunate geological position and the rising cost of oil, which has already funded other massive architectural projects. Plus, Dubai is growing, both as an industry hub for media and technology, and as a tourist attraction. The Dynamic Architecture structures don’t yet have plans to be built, but the idea is being seriously considered.

To see some of these buildings “in action,” check out the Dynamic Architecture Web page for multimedia and more artistic renditions…and the buildings doing ballet.

Lisa Zyga
Science Blogger

Jul 25, 2007
by Gloria Campos
Gloria Campos's picture


Great find! I love this idea. I hope it works out. Gloria Campos-Hensley

Jul 25, 2007
by DMIsalem
DMIsalem's picture

This is awesome..the coming

This is awesome..the coming future seems more "sci-fi" then any book out

 When I first clicked this article I was more surprised then anything at the Amount of energy that these turbines can produce...I thought it would have just been enough to power the building itself.

 Imagine a city with 10's of rotating organic-looking skyscrapers turning about.

 This would be great for the environment, I hope we see covereage on this when its built.



Many times, the only thing worse then failing is never beginning at all"

-Salem Honey

Aug 28, 2007
by Dubai-Resident (not verified)

Just goes to show you

What happens when big wallets meet big egos meet big risk takers.

Why did I mention the ego thing?

Because most business people here have egos so big, they REALLY want their skyscraper to look different from everyone elses. The result? A really varied and interesting skyline. I actually met one guy who snapped photographs of buildings here so that he could send them to his architect in New York! Hah! That was a paradigm shift for me! 

Since I live in Dubai, I'll keep you guys posted if I am ever driving down the road and see a building turning and twisting like that! Will probably have pile-up of cars in front of it because people are not watching the road!




Oct 12, 2007
by Jim Marlo (not verified)


All the numbers in the above article are bogus.  Wind turbines are not a good source of energy.  The wind does not offer that much energy, especially small turbines.  And wind technology is tapped out, and has been for centuries, because you cannot extract more energy than exists.  Air particles in motion do have energy, but not that much.  I suggest anyone do a little more research on wind turbine science and efficiencies before they buy into this hoopla.  And there is a lot of this going around right now.  Ca-ching.  yeah, people buy into this, literally, because these designers and developers are taking advantage of the fact that no one knows they are lying.   The reality is, these wind turnines (all combined) may be able to power the "exit signs" in the corridors leading to exit stairs.   Maybe.


Jul 6, 2008
by Anonymous

Exit signs

This building will make far more power than Exit signs use. I have installed solar electric systems for 30 years and the guy above is.... well .... completely incorrect. He must have an axe to grind. I would be surprised if the building can make all its power from wind (the cooling load looks to be huge) but to reduce this to exit signs is specious.

Aug 10, 2008
by Anonymous

good for the environment?

This is not good for the environment.... perhaps only marginally less bad than conventional building design.

Oct 14, 2008
by Anonymous

ya mum

ya mum