A lot of people can grumble about the sight and sounds of wind turbines. Others, particularly those of a green persuasion, can see them as majestic towers of whirling beauty. However few would think about actually living inside a wind turbine. You're probably thinking about the traditional type of wind turbine, in which case, yes, it would be most odd (and probably dangerous) to live inside a nacelle!
In the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, architects have designed a huge circular wind turbine. But there's a difference- it's one that you can also live in. It's called the Dutch Windwheel. It uses electrostatic wind energy converter (EWICON) technology. What about the noise that seems to be inherent with wind turbines? No problem, This one is going to be completely silent. No problem then for Windwheel residents!
The giant circular turbine will be surrounded by two rings. The outer ring will be a tourist attraction ride of 40 “rotating cabins” on cables (think similar to the London Eye by the River Thames in London- see below).
The inner wheel will contain flats, a hotel and a restaurant. But is this genuinely sustainability-led architecture or simply a tourism-generating design gimmick?
The electrostatic wind energy converter, mentioned above, was developed in 2013 by a consortium of Dutch companies and academics, uses a combination of wind and water to generate power. Thin metal tubes across the turbine's surface contain electrodes and nozzles which throw out a fine spray of water droplets. These are naturally attracted to the positive eletrodes, but are displaced by the wind blowing through the structure. This increases their potential energy, and it is this energy that can then be harnessed as electricity. A new and clever technology.
Those rings around the turbine's edge will be used for things. The outer one, will be filled with 40 rotating cabins on cables, to create a kind of very slow Ferris Wheel experience, while showing on the internal walls/glass an interactive cinema trip through the history of the Dutch water management. The inner ring will contain flats, a hotel, and a restaurant.
There's solar power as well- it is topped with solar panels, and includes a system to convert organic waste into biofuel to power the building.
If constructed (and we hope it will be) it shouldn't ever become a white elephant- it has been estimated that it will attract 1-2 million visitors a year! That's one heck of a green wheelie!
All images are courtesy of Dutch Wind Wheel.