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Prizewinning WINDSCRAPER Facade Makes Energy All Over

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The always innovative HWKN was the winner of a competition for the new facade of the Piraeus Tower in Athens, Greece. Their WINDSCRAPER generates wind power all over its facade.

“Changing the Face – The Piraeus Tower” entrants had one limit.

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The competition entries were limited by the structure of the existing building. Only the facade could be altered. So HWKN proposes that they will first replace the existing facade with high-performance Sentry Glass for transparency and strength.

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Then, the entire building is to be covered with artificial “leaves” like a tree. These cool the building interior in three ways.

“In our concept, the building is equipped with an additional layer of wind energy harvesting technology that serves three main purposes. First, it transforms wind energy into electrical energy using a wind-farm façade that is equipped with power-rod extensions and wind catchers resembling artificial leaves.”

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The wind energy generation facade is actually based on proven technology. The architects are not just dreaming up funny looking electricity generators that won’t really generate electricity.

Their technology is based on turbines developed by Swedish wave power giant Seabased where the movement of waves is translated into usable electrical energy.
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The building’s inhabitants will be able to walk up exterior stairs outside and experience the nearby “wind-harvesting” forest first-hand. (Energy is also saved when stairs are chosen over elevators, and the unique experience provides an incentive to use stairs).

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Secondly, in addition to generating some of the building’s energy, the facade also has a psychological effect. It reconnects the building’s occupants with the natural environment, like a tree canopy, generating calming sounds when the artificial leaves move, bringing a sort of “next nature” to the occupants of a high-rise.

Matthias Hollwich, Marc Kushner of HWKN say “research has proven that when people inside of a building connect to the outside world they have a higher tolerance for climate discomfort, effectively lowering the need for excessive cooling and heating”.

The third cooling effect from the artificial leaves is created because they also “act as shading devices, while allowing for a clear view of the sleek curtain wall, generating a new, open and stimulating relationship between the city and the formerly generic tower”.

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The Pireaus Tower in the decidedly mundane “before” picture.

“Ever since the first air-conditioning system was installed in 1902”, says HWKN, “our interior world became independent from the world outside. Although this is sometimes called ‘efficient’, sealed buildings completely disassociate us from the natural world, leading to greater energy consumption and pollution, a key component of the global environmental crisis”.

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“In order to save us from the imminent ecological catastrophe, strategies of energy efficiency and sustainability must move beyond conservation: we need buildings that harvest the environment for energy, synergizing the building’s performance with natural forces.”

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The view from the existing Pireaus Tower does provide the potential for a truly iconic building.

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