Mar 222010
The Venturi effect
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London landmark building will generate 8% of its energy needs

Rooftop turbines on the ‘Razor’ are first in world to be built into fabric of apartment block.

Peering down 148 metres from the top of the latest addition to London‘s skyline, the traffic-clogged Elephant and Castle roundabout and its notorious neighbour, the Heygate estate, below feel an unlikely location for a world first. But next week, this new skyscraper, nicknamed “the Razor”, will take a crucial step towards becoming the world’s first building with wind turbines built into its fabric.

While wind speeds in the concrete jungle at the tower’s base would render a wind turbine pointless, at 42 storeys up they are capable of 35mph gusts – a serious challenge for the workers who created the complex steel structure – and are projected to generate 8% of the building’s electricity needs.

The building – officially called the Strata tower – is a £113m milestone in the £1.5bn project to regenerate the Elephant and Castle area. The Strata development, which comprises the tower and a smaller “Pavillion” building, is a statement of the new demographic Southwark council hopes the area will attract – its 408 apartments range from £230,000 to £2.5m.

But the tower also marks an innovation for the building sector, which under government regulations will have to make all new buildings zero-carbon by 2019.

Justin Black, director for Brookfield, the developer, said the decision to choose wind was a “conscious decision to experiment”. He pointed out that the entire southern facade of the building would have had to be covered in solar photovoltaics to generate the same amount of energy. “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,” Black said.

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