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S2: Zero Emissions, Zero Energy Office Tower – Burj al-Taqa

Burj al-Taqa Energy Tower I’m a little late getting to this because I’ve reserved it for the Skyscraper Sunday column, but news of this building pretty much swamped the blogosphere a couple weeks ago.  This is the Burj al-Taqa, or Energy Tower, a project conceived by a handful of architects and Eckhard Gerber.  If Gerber’s computer models prove correct, this tower will be completely energy independent, producing all its own energy via sunlight, wind, and water.  Also, coming in with a price tag of $406 million for the giant 68-story eco-tower, the Burj al-Taqa will occupy #22 on the list of world’s tallest buildings. 

This office tower is not short on innovation, so here are a few of the concepts Gerber has planned:  the cylindrical shape is designed to expose as little surface area to the sun as possible, thereby reducing heat gain; a solar shield reaches from ground to the roof, protecting the building from the sun’s glaring rays; the tower’s facade is built from a new generation of vacuum glazing, to be mass-marketed in 2008, that will transmit two-thirds less heat than current generation products; negative pressure created by winds breaking along the tower will suck spent air from rooms out of the building through air slits in the facade; sea water will be used to pre-cool air; to generate electricity, the tower will have a 197-foot wind turbine and two photovoltaic arrays totally 15,000 square meters; and additional electricity will be generated by an island of solar panels (literally floating in the sea within viewing distance of the building) totally 17,000 square meters.  Any excess electricity will be used to generate hydrogen (from the seawater via electrolysis), which be stored in special tanks.  Night power will then be supplied by fuel cell technology.  Also, Gerber plans to use mirrors to create a cone of light that will send natural light through the center of the building.  Pretty impressive concepts all around.  Via.

Good Links:
+New Tower Creates All Its Own Energy [Spiegel]
+Skyscraper Creates All Its Own Energy [Metaefficient]
+Dubai Burj al-Taqa Skyscraper to Generate All Its Own Energy [Engadget]
+The Burj al-Taqa [‘Energy Tower’] [architecture.mnp]

::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::

Rowhaus Condominiums, Modern + Green Living by Blue Conservancy


I’m in the middle of trying to find a nice little home in Salt Lake City and don’t think I’ve ever seen the words ‘bungalow’ or ‘rambler’ so much in my life.  Many (not all) of the places here are run down, beat up, smelly, oozing with latent mold and lead issues, and very expensive.  There’s not much in the way of modern or contemporary offerings either, but there’s a small community of developers starting to turn that around.  For example, if we were in the position to buy, we’d go after this place being developed by Blue Conservancy called Rowhaus

Located at 1130 South West Temple, Rowhaus is a community of 24, 3-story, townhouse-style condominiums.  With prices starting at $299,000, Rowhaus is one of the nascent green offerings in the urban housing market here in Salt Lake City.  Some of the green features include the following: quiet, insulated concrete partition walls; large, thermally broken operable windows in all rooms; Energy Star appliances; and two minute walk to rail transportation.  Each unit is about 2,000 sf, with separate 2-car garages and a private yard.  Also, from what I understand, Blue Conservancy is a Salt Lake City Green certified business.  Nice. 

Atkins' Al Sharq Office Complex in Kuwait City (S2)

Al Sharq Tower Recently, an Atkins office complex concept received big-time coverage by being awarded the 2007 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Award in the Office category.  I’m blogging about it because I like some of the sustainable elements.  The 180 meter Al Sharq tower includes an executive gym, health club, spa, and swimming pool at the top.  The building also features planted sky gardens in strategic locations where people can step outside, take a break, soak in the view, and think.  Commenting on the building’s unique green attributes, Nicholas Bailey of Atkins in Bahrain said:

This is a green building – literally – because of its foliage camouflage.  Vertical fins to the street elevation, formed in colored glass, are fitted with integrated solar panels that contribute to the building’s energy needs.  The project showcases a new way of building the working environment.  It is no longer a cage to confine workers, but a creative living environment to encourage productivity.  The groundbreaking concept of the project is the provision of different scenarios where business can take place.  More images below. 

Good Links:
+Atkins Office Concept Wins International Award [atkins global]
+Kuwait Office Development Short listed for MIPIM Award [WAN]

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Green Corporate America, British Eco-Towns, Wal-Mart's Solar Play, + A Green Gas Station (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. McGraw-Hill Construction released the Greening of Corporate America SmartMarket report detailing corporate America’s opinions on green building and sustainability. 
  2. Future British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has announced a plan to build 5 affordable "eco-towns," which will include wind and photovoltaic energy sources. 
  3. Wal-mart announced a major initiative to outfit 22 stores with solar power, an amount that could be up to 20 million kWh per year. 
  4. A $3 million BP gas station in South Baltimore becomes latest green building with an amazing living roof, among other things. 

The Modern Danish Interpretation of Light*house (S2)

Denmark Lighthouse Rendering Night

The images you see are for a development in Denmark called the "Danish Light*house," a collaboration between UNStudio, 3xn, and Gehl Architects.  Light*house is the winner of the competition for a new Aarhus harbor front.  In addition to the 140 meter residential tower, the project includes the ancillary buildings also on the water front.  With sub-level parking and no parking on ground level, one goal of Light*house is to create a walkable environment that draws visitors to the water.  Although details are still in general terms, starting sometime in 2008, it will be built to the newest energy standards and sustainable building practices.  Light*house will have a healthy mix of rental + owner-occupied housing; a large portion of the project will include non-profit rental housing.  When construction is complete in 2010, the project owners hope to have the harbor front in Denmark.  More pics below the jump.  Via.

Good Links:
+Danish Light*house [architecture.mnp]
+The Lighthouse of Danish Urban Development [WAN]
+3xn, UNStudio, Gehl Architects [architects]

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Construction Waste: Singh Intrachooto + OSISU

Tilee Bench

Recently, I’ve run across the work of an environmentally friendly Thai architect named Singh Intrachooto.  Singh saw a problem in the industry and decided to do something to close the loop.  If you’ve ever been involved with construction of any form, you know there’s tons of wasted materials.  That’s where Singh comes in.  He takes left over scrap from construction sites and designs furniture with them, each piece being different depending on the size and shape of the materials that get salvaged.  Now, Singh’s furniture has exploded and is on display in Los Angeles and Paris.   

Singh sells the furniture via his website, OSISU, but I’m not necessarily advocating the purchase of his work.  It’s incredible and inspiring, but we have our own construction waste here in the U.S.  We have tons of it.  And it’s going straight to the landfill.  Why not find value in that trash?  Let’s close the loop and put good materials to use.  With Singh, it was just about 18 months ago that he decided to start making this furniture, and in his words, "people thought he was crazy."  Now it’s getting big-time coverage all over the media.  All it takes is asking the construction workers to set aside scraps like wood, steel, and concrete.  The pieces pictured were made from reclaimed teak morsels.  Via reuters


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