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The Windwheel is composed of two rings built on an underground foundation and surrounded by wetlands so as to give the structure the appearance of floating. The outer ring houses 40 rotating cabins to provide visitors with impressive views of Rotterdam—much as the London Eye does in the UK—while the inner ring houses 72 apartments, 160 hotel rooms, commercial outlets and is topped off with a restaurant.

Perhaps the most striking detail of the Windwheel, other than its appearance, is the turbine that fills the inner ring of the building. The electrostatic wind energy converter (EWICON) is a technology that was developed at TU Delft and “converts wind energy with a framework of steel tubes into electricity without moving mechanical parts.” This means no noise and much easier maintenance.

Related: TU Delft and Mecanoo Unveil New Bladeless Bird-Friendly Wind Turbine Design

The proposed Windwheel is also equipped with solar PVs and a climactic facade to make the best use of natural resources. The building’s water usage is also carefully managed, with rainwater captured atop the structure, and tap water fed into the wetlands that surround the Windwheel. Furthermore, biogas is also produced from the residents’ waste.

The developers of the design, a consortium made up of Rotterdam-based companies BLOC, DoepelStrijkers, Meysters and NBTC Holland Marketing, intend the structure to be a “dynamic showcase for Dutch Clean Technology [that] provides a continuous platform to demonstrate technical and technological innovations,” and in the process, creates a very modern update on the traditional windmills of the Netherlands.

+ The Dutch Windwheel