The Piraeus Tower in Piraeus, Greece has long been called the "Sleeping Giant", as it has not been completed since construction started 30 years ago. A competition sponsored by GreekArchitects.gr and Dupont called for architects to envision the tower in modern times with a new facade in order to establish the tower as the landmark it was meant to be. The winner of the competition is the Windscraper Tower by New York City-based HWKN Architects, which is characterized by a network of multi-purpose wind generating "leaves" on the facade of the building.
HWKN proposes to transform the Piraeus Tower into a wind energy generating machine by adding a layer of wind harvesting technology on the exterior of the building. The renewable energy facade serves three main purposes — first, power-rod extensions and wind catchers that resemble artificial leaves capture the wind and turn it into usable power. This technology was inspired by the research and development of Seabased Inc., a company responsible for a Swedish wave energy park where the movement of waves is translated into usable electrical energy.
Second, the artificial leaves act as a canopy for the building and sway and move in the breeze, generating calming sounds like leaves in the breeze. As the building includes operable windows, the occupants can hear this noise, which is meant to reconnect them with the natural environment. Finally, the leaves also act as a shade screen for the interior, protecting the building from the sun and encouraging natural ventilation and cooling. A new staircase added on the exterior of the building lets occupants walk through the artificial canopy and provides an additional means of traveling throughout the building