Gallery: CASTLE HOUSE SKYSCRAPER Makes its Own Electricity!


Green towers are popping up everywhere, boasting laundry lists of green features, and wind turbines seem to be a smart energy option for any tower over 20 stories. Castle House, a new residential tower project designed by Hamiltons of London and located at Elephant and Castle in South London, not only advertises itself as an eco-machine, but will generate its own power on site through a series of wind turbines and a heat and power plant.

Castle House involves the construction of two buildings – a 43-story building rising to 147m above ground level with three 9-meter diameter wind turbines at the top, and an adjacent 5-story pavilion building.

When complete, The Castle House will have 310 apartments and retail units on the ground level. With completion projected for 2009, the residential project is targeting an “excellent” rating under the British EcoHomes certification system. We’re not sure exactly how this rating aligns itself with American LEED standards, but we can promise you we’ll be keeping an eye on the progress and potential success of the power-generating skyscraper. We love the concept behind this project and the idea that such a large-scale urban tower could create such amounts of energy for itself. While windpower has amazing potential, we’re curious to see how this plays out in a dense urban setting and to see if the design gets compromised down the line. Either way, the proposal is promising, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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  1. AndyW August 11, 2009 at 6:00 am

    The turbines are really moving along now.

    I’m not sure how economic it is though. I wonder how long it will take to recoup the costs of construction in saved electricity costs.

  2. Mekhong Kurt March 4, 2008 at 6:28 am

    GM — I have to say, it appears your argument is largely one of the words we choose to express a concept.

    Of course not building any structure — right down to a chicken coop or outhouse — has zero environmental consequences, a sort of an environmental equivalent to “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” But turned on its head.

    So, I might suggest, having no humans at all be better for the planet. Then we wouldn’t be using *any* natural resources, etc. nor polluting the environment.

    I don’t say that to be sarcastic, only to underscore everything involves a trade off. If humanity is to exist, we need buildings. Maybe in the distant future scientists will be able to have their cake and eat it too — buildings with truly zero impact. But given the “inconvenient truth” of the laws of thermodynamics, I can’t imagine how. (And no, I’m not a scientist.)

    So, as long as we remained constrained, the best we can do is to seek ever better ways to lessen our impact. Perhaps attaching emotionally-loaded terms such as “good” and “bad” cloud the issue. I prefer to say, “This is less effective than that.” I’ll leave the moral judgment to some diety, my fellow humans, heck, my pet dog.

    However, if you’re most comfortable thinking about it in such terms, that’s certainly okay, too — after all, how you assess is your business.

  3. mohsin khan December 31, 2007 at 10:53 am

    i m electrical engineer working in multiplex middle east.
    it s amaziming project to produce the power within buliding and use it over there.
    it s a great achivemnt fr engineers .

  4. Out of Oil » Blog... November 2, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    […] the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in not so sunny London another eco-tower will rise downtown.  Wind will be the main source for the building’s hunger for power. […]

  5. Mark Dorricott September 25, 2007 at 7:46 am

    I am only 16 years old and i come up with similar designs to this. I am currently studying “Computer aided archictural design and technology” at motherwell college in scotland. I come up with designs like this nearly everyweek. I am commited to being an architect in the future with my futuristic designs for buildings with eco-friendly design incorporated. Please if you would like to see some of my work (Drafts and Sketches and some CAD work) Please contact my email at “”

    Thank You

  6. Doug Lucchetti September 6, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    I think an ideal way to furnish the human lanscape with space galore for humans and actually enhance the natural system around us would be to thihk of these skyscrapers as small-scale mountain habitats. Imagine a mile long slope that goes up 1/2 mile, the roof of which is landscaped with running water and wetlands with a population of campatible creatures from birds and bats (insect control) to endangered species. Every inhabitant in the building and the area would benefit from the immediate proximity of this natural space, fullfilling our instinctive need to spend time with beautiful nature, as E.O Wilson calls it “our biophilia”, and would enjoy the beauty of the nearby parkland as it absorbs the wind, precipitation and solar radiation, some of which could be easily captured for conversion to our ultimate consumption.
    I’d love to have a little condo set among the crags of concret 300′ (25th floor) above the bayou overlooking quaint old New Orleans off in the distance, beyond which the other giant living-green covered cenotaph-like structures with their windmills and waterfalls, their unique bird and animal communities. They mark the location of neighboring cities in the new “post-energy crisis” state of “Gulf of Mexico Bioregion”. The people worship in the plaza to the sun gods!

  7. Inhabitat » INDIA... August 23, 2007 at 12:48 am

    […] far as designing a building around sustainable features, such a wind turbines, like in the case of Castle House in London. Most of those have been in the United States or Britain, with a few lofty renderings coming from […]

  8. thunk. August 21, 2007 at 5:51 am

    What this post fails to mention, unfortunately, is the wider context in which the construction of Castle House will sit. The building is part of the £1.5billion regeneration of the Elephant & Castle which is expected to be completed by 2014. Castle House may well be impressive, but the regeneration scheme of this rather neglected area of London is even more so.

  9. A Life Within » B... August 20, 2007 at 9:35 am

    […] Inhabitat is one of our favorite websites, shining the energy-efficient spotlight on sustainable design. Check out the Castle House Skyscraper to catch a glimpse of what we hope to see emerging in the not so distant future. […]

  10. Nick Simpson August 19, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I have to say I understand and largely agree with a lot of GM’s comments, although they are much clearer on his post on BLDGBLG. One of the main points is that a lot of architects put these visually obvious green measures, such as in-built turbines, into their buildings to score brownie points, where a better solution would be to engineer a solution with 10% less steel or lower need for air-conditioning. However we can see the turbines and not the saved steel/smaller ventilation systems, so we celebrate the first and not the second. You could argue this is green-washed architecture.

    I’m not entirely certain about the removal of 30 storeys from a 100-storey tower though – as people have mentioned, those 30 storeys would otherwise be need to be built elsewhere, covering another area of land in what will probably a less central, sustainable location.

    I agree with Erik’s post, although I’m afraid my view has always been that humans are inherently greedy and selfish on an individual level as therefore our only hope is for strong leadership. Something we here in the UK don’t appear to have right now:

  11. Erik van Lennep August 18, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Well, I was about to toss my own thoughts into the mix here, and then David sort of said what I was thinking, but maybe I will just say a few more words.

    I have been involved in human rights and eco-defense as well as design for waaaaayyyyyyy long now, and I am very familiar with the mindset that says “the Earth would be a lot better off without people” (and it could well be true). As a species, we are still pretty new on this planet, and our behaviour reflect that. We are yet in our adolescence, and still have the tendency to do things simply because we can. Seemingly, there is no fast track to wisdom, but we may not make it far enough to achieve that.

    What comes into my own mind over and over in different situations, is that Homo sapiens has certain behaviours that may be causing problems for the system at the moment, but seem to be hardwired into us……….so they are not going to change very soon. Maybe instead of blaming ourselves for making such a mess, we should be accepting the fact that we are builders and manipulators of our environment, and learn to do it responsibly and consciously.

    What about the idea of buidling to help the rest of the environment? What about building as if we believed we were PART of our own environment, as much as it is a part of us? What if rather than simply hoping to minimise our overall impact, we sought to maximise our positive impact. Sustainability is not just about conservation of what remains, and minimisation of our drain on resources. At this time, we must be repairing as much as possible every step along the way. You know those “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse,Recyle? Let’s add a few more: Respect, Restraint, Rethink, Renew, Restore…Maybe then we will all have a chance at a future which is beyond survival.

  12. David August 17, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    But what if a building could have a positive effect on the environment?

    Tom, don’t drop out of school, instead work on making things profitable for nature; doctors already do it; they make things, like artificial legs, hearts, etc that are good for our natural bodies.

    Currently a not-building is better for the environment than the turbine-building (or most green things out there); but a good-building could be thought of…

  13. Bryce August 17, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    GM, I’ve got no disagreement that no building offers the least impact. However, if you honestly believe that’s going to happen, you’re living in a fantasy world. Obviously enough need has been established for that kind of space in London that people are putting up large sums of money to build it. The alternative to going vertical is going horizontal. Going horizontal requires significantly more space on the ground and will further encourage sprawl, which London already has plenty of. I stand by my assertion that there are times when this type of building is not only appropriate, but the most appropriate solution.

  14. charlie brown August 17, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    building up is better then across!!!

  15. Sarah August 17, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Bouncing off GM’s post– the greenest building is one that is already built. The environmental impact has already been made, but retrofitting it to make it greener is a great idea. Most areas of the United States already has a decent existing building stock. Instead of demolishing it (creating more building waste and bringing in more materials), why not reuse it? Older buidings are made of sturdier materials and have longer lifespans.

  16. Marilyn Terrell August 16, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Have you seen this cool design for twisitng skyscrapes in Dubai that rotate around a central concrete core, with wind turbines stacked horizontally between each floor? Each tower generates enough electricity for its residents, as well as the surrounding neighborhood,and it’s totally greeh:

  17. GM August 16, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    The problem is that people can’t live or work in a not-built building.

    Provided you establish that there is, in fact, a need for more office space in a city like London, then sure – you need to build the building.

    But that wasn’t my point: my point was that basically any act of (at least modern) architecture, no matter how many wind turbines it has, is worse for the environment than no act of architecture. So we shouldn’t pretend that a steel-intensive high-rise with a few wind turbines up top is good for the environment; it’s just not as bad as it could have been.

    Even having said that, though, the reason I made my comment about chopping floors off the building is because reducing this high-rise by ten stories and using less steel could very well have a more positive environmental impact than adding wind turbines will. So a developer who simply shortens his or her buildings could very well have a better environmental record than someone who builds wind turbine-powered high-rises – but there’s not much of a story there, and the photographs aren’t as cool.

    So a building that’s short and has no wind turbines – even if it has a more positive environmental impact than a cool-looking tall building with wind turbines – doesn’t get much media attention. And that’s as true on my own website as it is anywhere else – I’m just making the observation.

  18. Bryce August 16, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Warren, thanks for saying it before I could get to it. Building anything has an environmental impact, and building nothing on a spot obviously has none. Without most of the world’s human population dying off, there is no way to have zero environmental impact. Impact mitigation is the thing. While building a high rise may not seem to be a good thing, is one tall building better than dozens or hundreds of smaller ones? For example, I’d love to see denser and more vertical construction if it saves pristine, natural spaces from urban sprawl. People living in such contexts also tend to have smaller vehicles, or none at all.

    We ought to be working on learning more about the economies and ecologies of scale in commercial and residential architecture and construction.

  19. Tom August 16, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Wait a second there, GM, so building is worse for the environment than not building?! I suppose I should drop out of architecture school now, because all I’d be doing is damaging the environment… thanks for the eye-opener.

  20. Warren Brooke August 16, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    To GM,

    The problem is that people can’t live or work in a not-built building.

    I agree that high-rise glass and steel towers are like the SUV’s of the building world, but it is pretty cool when you can have one that has the relative footprint of a Honda Civic rather than a Hummer.

    A rough calculation suggests that the three wind turbines are enough to supply electricity to at least 100 homes. That’s pretty good, even if the tubines are only for decoration.

  21. GM August 16, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    No matter how much of its own electricity it generates, however, building a new high-rise is never better than not building a new high-rise at all, as far as its environmental impact goes. In other words, you might be lessening the impact of a traditional high-rise, but this is not more “green” than building nothing at all. I love the wind turbines, and hope more towers incorporate them into their designs, but it’s a mistake to assume that this makes the tower good for the environment – it’s just less bad for the environment than it would otherwise have been.

    A minor point, but an important one – after all, a planned 100-story high-rise that is later cut to 70 stories can be less bad environmentally than it would have been before – due both to material use (i.e. structural steel) and internal power needs (i.e. elevators, climate control, etc.) – but this doesn’t mean that it’s a “green” building. It’s just not as bad as it could have been – which is also true for the Castle House tower pictured here.

    I think one way of looking at this is that you can compare a new building to no building at all or you can compare a new building to how bad that building might have been. If you’re doing the latter, then almost any minor design decision will make a building “green,” including ornamental wind turbines.

    In any case, it just seems that a whole host of important, behind-the-scenes decisions made in the interest of reducing a building’s footprint get overlooked, because they don’t photograph well, whereas these sorts of flashy and ultimately less vital green clip-ons get huge amounts of press.

    Arguably, Donald Trump deciding not to build a new high-rise in western Manhattan has a much more positive environmental impact than does building a new “green” high-rise anywhere in the world. But the second one looks cool, and the first one doesn’t.

  22. Eco Skyscraper « ... August 16, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    […] Link via inhabitat […]

  23. hkeijser August 16, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    And what about birds getting caught in the wind turbines? That would not be so ‘eco’, now would it?

  24. Sarah August 16, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    uuuuugly! Why do so many green buildings have to look so much like they’re trying to be the wave of the future? Yuck.

    Though I love the windmills built into the building.

  25. David August 16, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    id live there. also wondering if they could add solar panels to the roof around the turbines to make it even more efficient?

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