An Architectural Bolt Of Inspiration, Or Lightning Struck Down?

Roman architects propose a thunderbolt-shaped solar tower for a sleepy district. Will it see the light of day?

Rome’s EUR district is known for its ceremonial quietude. The zone, which was constructed under the behest of Mussolini for the planned but stillborn 1942 Esposizione Universale (World’s Fair), is marked by long, empty boulevards and banal modern office buildings. Ghostly fascist monuments head off streets, forming an austere other-era backdrop to the district today.


A pair of Roman architects have unveiled a speculative project for the EUR that would definitely shake things up. The Eurosky Tower is a rotating office tower packed with photovoltaic panels and other renewable energy technologies. It also looks like a giant lightning bolt.

The project, by Paolo Venturella and Angelo Balducci, would create a new landmark for the EUR and all of Rome. Given its height and the city’s lowly skyline, the tower would be visible from far beyond the district’s borders. And its radical design, coupled with its sustainable features, could spark a vanguardist turn in Roman architecture, say the architects. But will neo-classical and Baroque-loving Romans fall in love with Eurosky?

The architects are hedging that the tower’s shape will endear it. The ecstatic thunderbolt profile, though cartoonish (and something the Roman gods might toss down on mortals below), isn’t there entirely for the sake of show. Venturella and Balducci say that the building corkscrews for a reason, which is to maximize the amount of surface area directly exposed to daylight. The facade is outfitted with a robust PV cell system so that, like a tree, the structure spirals upward, turning to catch the sun and store solar energy.

“The idea of tilting and rotating the panels toward the solar rays,” the architects explain, ”deforms the building, making the idea and the architecture a unique thing.” The structural gymnastics are evident in the project’s subtitle: the “Twilt Tower.” Time twilt tell if the proposal can become anything more than conceptual–a bolt of inspiration or lightning struck down.

About the author

Sammy is a writer, designer, and ice cream maker based in New York. He once lived in China before being an editor at Architizer.