Designed by the engineering multinational firm Arup, more famous for designing the Pompidou Centre, the Sydney Opera House and many of the stadium used for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the building is the first attempt to create what Arup has called the future of skyscrapers.
With the outer facades covered in glass panelled bioreactors the building can produce its own energy. The algae in the reactors provide biomass and thermal energy, as well as insulating the building from temperature changes and noise.
Currently a total of 129 reactors have been installed, all controlled by an energy management system that harvests energy from the sun, and the algae, to be used to heat water, which then can be used to generate electricity, or as a means of warming the building during the winter.
Jan Wurm, Arum’s European Research Leader, has said that “using bio-chemical processes in the facade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept. (Related article: Turning Fruit Trees into Biofuel)
It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario.”
Arum’s vision of the future is one in which buildings are ‘living organisms,’ powered by algae that respond automatically to changes in the weather, or inhabitant needs. Other ideas include the use of flying maintenance robots, high rise farms, and photovoltaic paint (all of these ideas are already in development).