Dubai’s 360-degree rotating skyscraper: an algorithm too far?

Have you seen the BBC report on Dubai’s first ‘rotating skyscraper’ this afternoon? There’s some French architect saying how much he’d observed the wind affecting skyscrapers, so now he wants to use the wind to help shape the buildings themselves.

Have you seen the BBC report on Dubai’s first ‘rotating skyscraper’ this afternoon? There’s some French architect saying how much he’d observed the wind affecting skyscrapers, so now he wants to use the wind to help shape the buildings themselves.

According to the Beeb, “The 420-metre (1,378-foot) building's apartments would spin a full 360 degrees, at voice command, around a central column by means of 79 giant power-generating wind turbines located between each floor.”

Do they honestly think this thing is going to stay up? OK, they may have employed huge layers of algorithmic logic in the design phase to make sure it is stable wherever the rooms stand in relation to each other… but what about the weather? You can’t predict ALL the effects that the building may face.

Although I know the weather pretty well in the UAE having spent three years there (it only rains for 10 days a year and when it does it all comes at once, there’s a bit of fog too but that’s about it apart from the sand storms and ‘shimal’ breezes) – surely this is one environmentally unquantifiable nightmare.

I’m sure our wonderful French construction architects used heaps of software to produce the design for this building, but I also think that there’s a cut off point between what software can help us to create in the physical world when the manifestation of our designs is something that faces nature in such a direct form.

Pepé le Pew, n'est-ce pas?

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