New skyscraper in London to have rooftop turbines

The recently completed ‘Razor’ tower in Elephant and Castle, London is to generate 8% of its own energy with new wind turbines.

Officially named the Strata tower, it stands at 148 m high and is part of a £1.5 billion project to regenerate the area around Elephant and Castle. It cost £113 million and also includes a smaller building, named the Pavilion. The towers are mainly for residential use, comprising of exclusive apartments ranging from £230,000 to £2.5 million in price.

New government regulations in the building sector are currently in place to make all new buildings zero-carbon by 2019.  The Razor design and development team hope to help towards those targets by having the wind turbines installed. The turbine blades (measuring around 9m) arrive on site next week, to be winched onto the roof for full installation in early April. The tower will be officially opened by Mayor Boris Johnson on July 1st.

The decision for wind turbines was driven by a “desire to experiments” according to Justin Black,  the director of Brookfield- developer for the project. If they wanted to use solar energy the entire southern face of the building would have be covered in solar photovoltaics to achieve the same energy. The turbines also add a striking design element to the top of the building, creating an iconic addition to the London skyline in the area. Justin Black commented,“The brief we gave to Hamilton’s Architects was we wanted a statement, we wanted to create benchmarks for sustainability and urban living. We wanted something bold, we wanted remarkable. It’s what I term Marmite architecture – you either love it or you hate it, there’s no in between.”

The 19kW turbines for the project were made especially for the towers, they will have five blades rather than three to reduce noise. The tower has a special five-tonne base fitted with four anti-vibration dampeners to prevent vibrations thorough the building.

The turbines will operate differently to traditional turbines found in open fields. The turbines in the Strata will be using the ‘Venturi Effect’, where wind is forced between two buildings and wind will be sucked from numerous angles and accelerated through the tubes. The turbines are estimated to produce around 50MWh of power each year and will also generate money, around £16,000- £17,000 a year through the new feed-in tariff from the Government.

The chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, Paul King, has commented about the pioneering aspect of the building, but feels that wind power isn’t always practical for skyscrapers, though he hopes we can learn from the experiment. He said “You’ve got to take your hat off to the design team for delivering a building that clearly captures the imagination. I doubt whether wind power will become a common feature in high-rise inner-city projects – but without this type of bold innovation, how would we ever know? Let’s see how it works and learn from the real performance data that is gathered.”

Although Strata wont be housing office space at the moment, there are increased demands for offices in all areas of London and new developments are being announced all the time. Strata could be the inspiration for architects and developers to incorporate iconic designs and energy production into their ideas for the future of London.