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Strawscraper concept calls for a wind energy-harvesting toupee


May 23, 2013

Belatchew Arkitekter has proposed converting the Söder Torn building in Stockholm into an urban wind farm by covering it in piezoelectric fibers

Belatchew Arkitekter has proposed converting the Söder Torn building in Stockholm into an urban wind farm by covering it in piezoelectric fibers

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Despite being the most common renewable energy technologies, solar panels and wind turbines still have their shortcomings. Particularly when it comes to the urban environment. Lack of space and concerns about noise are just two problems with integrating them into city settings in an unobtrusive way. That's why Belatchew Arkitekter wants to try a different approach with its Strawscraper concept, which proposes transforming the Söder Torn building in Stockholm into an urban wind farm by covering it in piezoelectric fibers.

When the Söder Torn building was originally proposed, its design called for 40 stories to be built, but construction was halted in 1997 at only 25 floors. Belatchew Labs, a studio within Belatchew Arkitekter, wants to revisit the taller design, providing space for extra residences while also converting the new sections into an urban wind farm.

The group's concept involves covering most of the building with thin straws consisting of flexible polymers and a core of piezoelectric materials. According the designers, as the straws sway in the wind the mechanical stress would generate an electric charge, which could then be used to provide power to the building itself along with the surrounding area.

The company says this technology could turn any building, whether old or new, into its own energy source, while producing less noise and requiring lower wind speeds than a typical wind turbine. The flowing fibers could also add to the buildings aesthetics, giving the appearance of rippling waves or grass fields, especially with the addition of colored lighting.

The design could be likened to a trimmed down version of the windstalk concept that is located on the exterior of a building rather than on the ground. Although current piezoelectric generators are only able to generate small amounts of power, there is work being done to improve their capabilities. These include using nanomaterials and giving them the ability to work with a wider range of frequencies.

However, even if the technology were sufficiently advanced to the point that piezoelectric power becomes a feasible large-scale energy source, employing it on a building that resembles an enormous sheepdog might be a hard sell.

Source: Belatchew Arkitekter

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

Sweet! I hope they will use some of the electricity to drive a led that eihter by intensity or colour will reflect the power generated. Could look really cool. Sweden is a country with cold winters though and sometimes the snow is wet and clingy. Will the house become a hairy popsicle?

Conny Söre

Do architects ever do a few back of envelope calculations before they open their mouths?


I wonder why deploying of wind turbines should be such an environmental problem!

A while back I watched a documentary by NatGeo in their Megastructures series. It covered the Pearl River Tower. It has deployed vertical turbines at an intermediate storey. Designed and implemented by English firms apparently it is a great success.


So how much energy could be created with this? Is it a feel-good eco thing or something serious? And what would the cost be compared to typical energy?


Splatman- I don't believe you went far enough in your criticism . I think they should just take the architects at Belatchew and hook them up to the building. The amount of hot air and crap they are talking should easily out produce anything they will actually get done.

Someday this maybe feasible for a reasonable price but today the expense of construction such a system would far out way the benefit. As a cost comparison of the project it's like building a large damn to generate electric from a backyard stream.

Matt Fletcher

I'd bet you could create a better energy balance by designing a building that's elevator operates like a ski lift cable car tram and have all the entrances and exits rigged so that everybody rides it down 30cm farther than than they road it up.


25 stories- is the infrastructure sufficient for a rooftop pool? A series of sunny side elevator tubular 'wind tunnel' pumps is probably a cheaper retrofit. A little 'rooftop solar steam' feeding a basement heat exchanger and basement hydro?

Hairy Snowball?


This would be the perfect venue for the corporate offices of Monsters, Inc. With aqua-blue piezo-thingies it would look just like Sully.

Bruce H. Anderson

just imagine all the crazy shadow casted on to the interior from the straws swinging back and forth. the shadow will make ur eyes go blind. its like you will never put a light over a fan it.will never be a good place to work in. great idea but so many design flaws.

Vincent Kwok

Low noise?!

I don't think the 'brains' behind this idea have stood near some big trees on a windy day.


Martin Winlow

The gains from any power generated will be lost to the extra electricity used due to all the shading from the fuzz on the building.

The safety issue with ice clinging to the fuzz will likely force the building to either have the fuzz removed or to put some very serious protection awnings for all the pedestrian walks and streets in the area.

It's a shame that so much effort appears to have been put into a design that has so many flaws. Several people didn't engage a full thought process.

Johannes Laun
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