Contributing Monkie G Monkie
Published on May 18, 2009
As you might have guessed I subscribe to the Architectural Magazine Metropolis. Of course for all the right reasons, its cutting edge, they only do modern and the magazine constantly features green projects. I just received my May 2009 issue and this thing is packed with green. Maybe it’s their Earth Month issue or something. What ever the reason is, the first thing that stopped me in my tracks was the cover. Not because of the dull graphic, but because of the idea behind the graphic, which was harvesting wind power directly from the hundreds of thousands of POWER TOWERS already dotting the landscapes of the world. What a brilliant idea. Why build wind turbine towers. when you already have towers for power lines? It’s the kill two birds with one stone thing. (Of course I am a vegan, so I wouldn’t do that, but you get the idea) This was the winning concept of Metropolis’s 2009 Next Generation competition weds two common aspects of the landscape: electrical-transmission towers and wind turbines.
I am going to feature part of the article here, but to read the whole thing head over to metropolismag.com. Also, below, tell us what you think. Is this a good idea, or just crazy. Do you believe in wind power?
Harvesting The Wind
Three young French designers hatch an ingenious plan to use existing infrastructure to create clean energy.
From the window of a TGV hurtling through France, the countryside flattens to a smudge—electrical towers rise and recede in clusters, and tall, lanky wind turbines seem to whip off pirouettes like a young Moira Shearer. Most passengers turn their heads, nodding off on a neighbor or burying their noses in Le Monde, but for a tri umvirate of young designers, the sight is a view of the future. The passing turbines and pylons augur a new way to harness renewable energy in a country that relies almost entirely on nuclear power. “When we’re riding on the train, we al-ways see pylons, and some turbines too,” Nic ola Delon says. “We say, ‘Both are here. Can’t we mix them together?’”
Delon, who is 31 and an architect, is the recip ient of Metropolis’s 2009 Next Generation prize, along with Julien Choppin, also a 31-year-old architect, and Raphaël Ménard, a 34-year-old engineer. Their project, Wind-it, addresses this year’s theme—which beseeched entrants to “Fix Our Energy Addiction”—with the effortless simpli city of a Pythagorean proof. The team proposes inserting wind turbines into existing electrical towers or, where infrastructure is broken or spare, building new towers that double as wind-power generators, thus introducing a fount of renewable energy into an aspect of civilization that’s as certain as taxes. With three potential sizes, the turbine towers could be integrated nearly anywhere: Lille, France, China’s Sichuan Province, or the streets of New York City.
Nicola Delon (left), Raphaël Ménard (right), and Julien Choppin (not pictured) envisioned Wind-it for their native France but insist it will work anywhere the wind blows.
It’s a pitch-perfect echo of the cultural moment. In the past decade, sustainability has become a moral imperative on the order of civil rights. Coun tries across Europe, including France, are clambering to meet an EU-wide goal of drawing 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, and the United States, after eight years of cowboy environmentalism, is finally catching up. President Obama’s stimulus package allocates almost $50 billion to energy, most of it renewable. At the same time, the global economic crisis has turned lavish building plans into symbols of excess and redirected shovels at the long overdue, if unglamorous, task of improving public infrastructure. As Valerie Fletcher, executive dir ector of the Institute for Human Centered Design and one of the contest’s judges, tells it, this is not an era for designers to tinker at the edges. “Things that might’ve been dismissed as pie in the sky, suddenly we were looking at them for potential practical use,” she says. “This was a time we had to think big.” Plenty of runners-up did just that—one calls for new zoning laws to allow mixed-use development in suburban subdivisions; another hopes to curb driving commutes through a centralized bicycle-loan system—but Delon and his team went a step further. “If you can change how energy is generated,” Fletcher says, “then you really have something that can change how we think about energy and how we use it.”
The team estimates that if a third of France’s high-voltage electricity towers were renovated with turbines, they could rival the power generation of two nuclear reactors, or about 5 percent of the country’s energy needs. “The genius of the proposal is that it solved probably the biggest issue of wind production,”says Alex andros Washburn, New York’s chief urban designer and a judge for the Next Generation competition, ìwhich is where to locate these very large structures. By incorporating them into transmission towers, which are already located and of the same scale as wind towers, the idea of how it looks on the landscape is very cleverly integrated.”
Keep reading at metropolismag.com