The "Hairy" Skyscraper

Swedish firm Belatchew Arkitektur have proposed plans to retrofit a Stockholm landmark with appendages, or "hairs," that capture wind and covert it to energy.

The "Hairy" Skyscraper

The "Strawscraper," as it’s properly called, turns the Söder Torn, one of the tallest housing high-rises in Stockholm, into an urban wind farm.

The "Hairy" Skyscraper

The "hairs" are easily swayed even in low-velocity wind, harvesting energy with very little noise, a big plus in an urban setting. Oh, it looks lovely from afar, like “wheat swaying in the wind.”

Co.Design

Architects Dream Up A "Hairy" Skyscraper That Produces Its Own Energy

Belatchew Arkitektur plans to turn a Stockholm landmark into a full-fledged urban wind farm.

We write about architecture as being "dynamic," "interactive," or even "animated," but it’s not really true. All buildings are static, incapable of propelling themselves to spontaneous movement. Architects work around this fact by applying fluttery metal screens or sculptural, undulating balconies to the sides of buildings—to give them the illusion of motion. Add-ons such as these may produce formal and sometimes experiential effects, but they have no structural function.

Swedish architects Belatchew Arkitekter are unsatisfied with this approach. Their conceptual design for a "Strawscraper" cloaks an existing residential tower in plastic appendages, or "hairs," that capture wind and use it to produce electricity for the building. Yes, the hairs are add-ons, but they significantly augment the tower’s core performance.

The project is part of an extension to Söder Torn, one of the tallest housing high-rises in Stockholm. The tower, designed by celebrated architects Henning Larsen, was completed in 1997, following a dramatic episode between the client and architect. The latter quit the project after the client eliminated 16 of the original 40 stories specified in the building plans. Belatchew’s Strawscraper scheme restores Larsen’s vision and grafts the unbuilt floors onto the landmark tower, while also adding a new restaurant and observation deck.

But the Strawscraper goes further, promising to transform the Söder Torn into a large-scale urban wind farm. The architects say they’ll do this by fixing movable straws (made from "composite material with piezoelectric properties") to the tower’s exterior: "[The] large number of thin straws can produce electricity merely through small movements generated by the wind," while creating very little noise, Belatchew principal Rahel Belatchew Lerdell tells Co. Design. The field of straws also looks aesthetically striking, akin to "wheat swaying in the wind." It, along with the proposal’s sustainable aspirations, will endow the static building with "new dimensions," Lerdell says.

"Architecture must deliver solutions to contemporary problems or issues," the architect underscores. Naturally, the firm believes the Strawscraper participates in this endeavor. The surplus electricity, they envision, will be used toward producing "what the building needs to become positive net energy."

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2 Comments

  • Paulus

    What does this do to the views of the people living in each of the unit? They might not enjoy the obstructed views. 

    At best wind conditions it's the ''clownfish in an anemone" view. At worst, it's "driving through the carwash" 

  • William Clay

    OMG, do you think the weight of this stuff is going to be supported by the existing structure?  It will not.  So what are you going to do about that?