4 Eco-Friendly Structures Straight Out of Science Fiction
Construction projects around the globe are looking for ways to incorporate energy efficiency into their designs, occasionally resulting in buildings that look like they were put in place to make James Bond late for his next sexual conquest.
The Bahrain World Trade Center
Located in Manama, Bahrain, the Bahrain World Trade Center is the first skyscraper not built by Dr. Doom to utilize giant wind turbines as a power source.
They double as a way to dispose of errant spies and superheroes.
Standing 50 stories tall, the two buildings are linked by three skybridges that each support a 95-foot-long wind turbine and are presumably waiting for Tom Cruise to kick somebody off of them. The sail shape of the towers creates a wind tunnel that increases the efficiency of the turbines -- despite only operating about half the time, the turbines still produce enough electricity to power approximately 300 homes each day, and to presumably carry the entire structure into space to beat a hasty moon base retreat should the situation arise.
If the birds ever declare war, this will be mankind's greatest stronghold.
The California Academy of the Sciences
The California Academy of the Sciences was evidently built by someone who thought Bio-Dome was a PBS documentary. The building itself is predominantly made of recycled material -- from recycled steel beams to recycled blue jeans in the insulation to the recycled scent of patchouli oil forever lingering in the halls.
All of the concrete is recycled from whale bones.
Ninety percent of the lighting in the building is natural California sun, but if you need to turn on an electric bulb from time to time, the roof has over 60,000 photovoltaic cells providing solar energy for the entire structure. In addition to the solar energy harvested on the roof, the plant life on the sloping hills of Hobbiton Academy actually insulate the building, lowering their energy consumption to 30 percent below federal requirements. The interior even houses an aquarium and a museum, making it a safe haven for hacky sacks, preshrunk sweaters and ironic half-inch buttons to coast on a crunchy science groove.
Nanyang Technological University Art School
The Nanyang Technological University Art School consists of three buildings that take the "rolling hills" idea of the California Academy of the Sciences and re-imagine them in a world where the landscape was sculpted by Frank Gehry wearing a scuba mask full of LSD.
As in the California Academy of the Sciences, the Nanyang art school's grass-and-earth roof insulates the building, while also collecting rainwater to serve as a cooling agent, because apparently solar-powered air conditioners are totally stupid. Additionally, the transparency of virtually every floor of the building allows for natural lighting to come through at every angle, saving over 120,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each year. Sadly, it does not compare to the annual kilowatt-hour genocide committed by Xboxes in the Western World.
If Hobbits had a stock market, it'd look like this.
Spain's Power Tower
This solar-thermal plant produces enough energy to provide over 11 megawatts of power to over 6,000 places of residence in Seville, Spain, while simultaneously looking like the facility where Matthew McConaughey battled terrorists in Sahara, which is a film that none of you have ever seen.
The giant tower in the picture overshadows 600 specifically angled mirrors, which reflect the sun's rays directly toward a single tiny point near the tower's roof. Running through that point in the tower is a network of water pipes, which get superheated by the combined might of all that reflected sunlight. The resulting steam runs a series of turbines that generate enough power to send Marty McFly back in time. The mirrors generate so much heat that the turbines continue to run for over an hour after the sun goes down, though presumably after that point everyone in Seville has to sit quietly in the dark until morning.