In 2008 a group of UQ architecture and engineering students were given the opportunity to enter a scheme in the ThyssenKrupp Elevator Architecture Award for an architectural proposition for Za’abeel Park, Dubai.
The project began as a collaborative design exercise between the UQ Architecture and Engineering faculties that followed the brief of the competition. A few teams were given the opportunity to resolve their schemes and enter under the name of an interlocutor, who had to be a practising architect.
The competition was for a scheme that would be a symbol for a new Dubai. We decided that an image based on renewable energy would be an appropriate new face for the once oil rich nation. The main idea behind the scheme was to find a way to harmoniously blend renewable power generation with public architecture. The scheme is based around an imagined wind turbine resembling a huge feather, which oscillates gently about a spherical bearing and generates electricity by magnetic flux.
The turbine was to be constructed of a carbon fibre lattice, skinned in a carbon reinforced Mylar fabric. Several turbines sit along a ridgeline on the site, while a heavy perforated Corten tower houses the program, further down the hill. The turbines are integrated into a tensile roof structure covering a large exhibition space, and the occupant can view into the depths of the generator and up into the interior of the wing.
The engineers in the group spent a great deal of time calculating the power output, and it was determined that the power generation capacity could cater for up to 15,000 homes in Dubai. Our research has yet to uncover a wind turbine of a similar configuration, and our calculations theoretically rated the largest wing at up to 50 Megawatts (subject to further scrutiny).
I must thank Dr Marci Webster-Mannison for her encouragement and guidance on this project. I must also acknowledge the group: Bart Mearns, Lucas Wise and Robert Kosman (eng) and Nik Strugar, Michael Lineburg, Tahnee Sullivan and Zoe Gillard (arch)