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World’s first revolving tower

The world’s first moving building, an 80-storey tower with revolving floors giving a shifting shape, is being built in Dubai. Architect David Fisher is building this Dynamic Tower design made of 80 prefabricated apartments which spin independently of one another. It is going to be the first building that rotates and will constantly change its shape. According to the architect, who is an Italian, “this building will never look the same, not once in a lifetime.” This 420-metre (1,378 feet) apartment would spin a full 360 degrees at voice command, around a central column by means of 79 giant power generating wind turbines located between each floor. The architect was inspired to create this perpetually moving skyscraper after soaking in the view from a friend’s apartment in Manhattan. According to him, the building will follow the rhythms of nature. It will change direction and shape from spring to summer, from sunrise to sunset and adjust itself according to weather.

The slender building will also be energy sufficient as the turbines will produce enough electricity to power the entire building and even feed extra power back into the grid. As electricity is generated by wind turbines, this project is environmentally friendly. Parts may move, the arms on the windmill, the elevators and escalators, the occasional rotating restaurant on the top floor, but not the whole skyscraper. The apartment will take between one and three hours to complete rotation, and will cost from $3.7m to $36m.

It will be the world’s first prefabricated skyscraper with 40 factory built modules for each floor. Ninety per cent of the tower will be built in a factory and shipped to the construction site. This will allow the entire building to be built in only 22 months. The only part of the tower that will be built at site will be the core. Part of this prefabrication will be the decrease in cost and number of workers (90 instead of 2000 needed). The total construction time will be 30 per cent less than a normal skyscraper of the same size. The majority of the workers will be in the factories, where it will be much safer. The modules will be preinstalled including kitchen and bathroom fixtures. The project seems to pose a number of complicated engineering puzzles. When asked, how would the plumbing hook-ups work in an apartment that is constantly moving? Fisher said the pipes will connect to the core via attachments similar to the ones used by military aircrafts for in-flight refuelling. Wouldn’t people feel dizzy? No, says Fisher, and adds that the rotations will be slow enough to ensure that no one will notice. With so many moving parts, wouldn’t the building be a maintenance nightmare. Fisher said the building’s modular construction will allow easy access to parts that need to be replaced. Leslie E Roberston, the structural engineer for the World Trade centre said the skyscraper might be unusual but is “absolutely buildable”.

There are plans to build a similar skyscraper in Moscow. The skyscraper will cost an estimated $700m to build and should be up and running in Dubai by 2010.

Neera Gulati


Why is LEED certification coveted?

The Federal Building in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, features extensive use of natural light to illuminate offices and a white roof to reflect heat. It has LEED certification, the country’s most recognised seal of approval for green buildings. But the building is hardly a model of energy efficiency. According to an environmental assessment last year, it did not score high enough to qualify for the Energy Star label granted by the EPA, which ranks buildings after looking at a year’s worth of utility bills. The building’s cooling system, a major gas guzzler, was one culprit. Another was its design: to get its LEED label, it racked up points for things like native landscaping rather than structural energy-saving features, according to a study by the General Services Administration, which owns the building. Builders covet LEED certification, it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as a way to gain tax credits, attract tenants, charge premium rents and project an image of responsibility. But the gap between design and construction, which LEED certifies, and how some buildings actually perform led the program to announce that it would begin collecting information about energy use from all the buildings it certifies.

NYT News Service

New twin towers in Bangkok
The design for Athenee Place and Tower, the recently completed residential tower and office building in Bangkok, Thailand, incorporates glass, metal and stone. The two buildings, designed by twin firms of architects and interior designers BBG and BBGM, with offices un the USA, Australia and China, comprise a 41-storey residential tower and a 35-storey office building. Strong vertical elements emphasise the towers’ elegant proportions. The swooping rooflines are inspired by hand gestures used in traditional Thai dance. The hand not only evokes a sense of protection for residents, but the gentle curve also offers a soft counterpoint to the towers’ linear and vertical dynamism.
Achal Narayanan

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