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.