Studied Impact, headed by architect Robert Ferry, is also responsible for designing the Almesien Tower, another solar concentrating skyscraper. Ferry’s newest design is planned for the Al Quoz neighborhood in Dubai, and would be located on an empty lot with clear access to sunlight on all sides. The bottom three floors would include shopping, commercial areas and restaurants and would be designed to fit in with the surrounding architecture, although the soaring tower would stick out compared to the low lying buildings surrounding it. On top of the retail podium would be a living roof top garden watered with condensate from the building’s air handling units.
Renewable energy systems have certainly been incorporated into buildings before, but never on such a grand scale. The design and architecture for the 10 MW Tower is actually centered around the renewable integrated systems. Based upon meteorological data for the Al Quoz site, the 5 MW horizontal axis wind turbine is capable of operating for 1,600 hours per year, while the two solar systems could operate for 2,400 hours per year, adding up to a yearly output of approximately 20,000 MWh. The estimated embodied energy of the tower is 360,000 MWh, so the energy generation would be able to neutralize its environmental impact in less than twenty years, which no other skyscraper has ever done.
The solar concentrating system is built into the south facing facade and consists of 1,600 heliostatic mirrors that direct the sunlight to a receiver mounted above the mirrors on a cantilevered arm. Molten salt is used as the working fluid to run a steam generator at 500 deg C. The mirrors shade the building partially, but also allow some sun in, which strikes a double curtain wall. Behind the wall is an interstitial greenhouse space reaching all the way to the top of the tower. Air is heated and rises up the 600 m tall chimney and turns the blades for the 2 MW solar updraft turbine.
This incredible design for a skyscraper moves far beyond energy efficiency and sustainable materials. This mixed-use residential and office building could potentially have a negative impact. Although it’s located in a questionable spot without much else around it in terms of public transportation or an urban core, the concept is really fascinating and certainly deserves more study.