Architect Robert Ferry recently unveiled a stunning design for a sustainable spire in Dubai that requires zero energy and produces zero waste and zero emissions. The Almeisan Tower is a concept created for Za’abeel Park that generates all of its own energy using concentrating solar power technology. The tower itself is actually a solar power tower (much like Solar One in California) that uses heliostats positioned at the top of the tower to direct sunlight onto a central receiver.
Almeisan is the Arabic name for one of the brightest stars in the sky in the Gemini constellation. It is also derived from the word Al Maisan, which means “the Shining One.” The solar power tower would be capable of generating 600 kW of solar power, which is enough to meet the energy demands of the tower as well as Za’abeel Park. The 224 heliostats placed around the top of the tower would track the sun and reflect the light to the central receiver, which will then heat liquid sodium to 500 degrees Celsius in order to drive a steam turbine.
Eight concrete pillars curve up and out to provide the base for the rooftop solar concentrating plant. The pillars are held together in the middle with a large tension ring. The interior of the structure features a cafe and an observation deck, which would offer spectacular views of the city. Near the bottom, the tower features a conference facility, a children’s library, and a cultural center.
The spire’s construction features eight wind towers that are used to help provide a natural cooling effect, where hot air is drawn up and out of the structure via chimney effect and cool air is drawn in. Living walls and roofs also help cool the building by helping to moderate temperatures. The vegetation acts as a “heat sink for modulating the temperature variations in a similar way to mud walls in traditional indigenous huts.”
This tower has an intriguing design and is the first one that we have come across to incorporate concentrating solar thermal energy into skyscraper design. The building was also designed to qualify as Triple Zero – zero waste, zero energy and zero emissions, which is a very ambitious design goal. Although this concept did not win the competition, we hope to see its ambitious array of sustainable features integrated into future projects.