Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bring in the Hipsters Part Three: Give Them Magical Rotating Buildings!

Hipsters are a cagey demographic. You can't pin them down. As soon as they think something's cool, it goes mainstream and loses its coolness. If you, the Metropolitan Economic Development Director, are lucky, the mainstreamification of some quasi-"hip" activity settles in as a steady, revenue-generating activity. Go visit a lifestyle center, if you want to see an example of a crazy idea (public spaces? My god!) turned into an unbelievably successful business venture.

These days, it seems the potential urbanites are gaga over environmentally-friendly building techniques. Just toss the word "sustainability" into a conversation at your favorite coffee shop / martini bar and witness the feeding frenzy. There's solar energy, geothermal energy, bio-friendly bamboo flooring, non-petroleum-based insulation, and so on. Not to mention high-density housing, cluster housing, co-housing, and transit-oriented-development (TOD).

But how can we up the ante / raise the bar / challenge greater support ? I've got it! Let's blanket our new residential high-rises in solar panels. We can then use those panels not to heat the building, but rather to rotate it.

Er, what? Rotate the building?

That's right folks, you heard me. We're going to build a cylindrical skyscraper that rotates ever so slowly, using energy generated from solar panels. If you don't believe it's possible, go read up on Dubai's latest development plan. Nothing says "wasted renewable energy source" like a fleet of two dozen 30-story, spinning skyscrapers.

Don't get me wrong: I'm sure the ever-changing view is great. Plus, you'll never be jealous of your neighbors' view from the other side of the floor, since once a week you'll have that view and they'll be forced to gaze at the back alley with the stray cats.

With all my recent talk of repurposing spaces, I'm amazed to see what amounts to a self-converting building. It's indeed impressive that the Dubai planners will be able to use solar panels to power the whole damn thing. It's like an accidental marriage of two unrelated but important urban planning principles: multi-use spaces and environmentally-friendly technology. Throw in a bunch of yuppie hipsters with cash to burn on downtown condos and we might have something! Are there ways to combine these elements that we haven't considered?

3 Comments:

Blogger Raines said...

You list cohousing in your hit list, but do take a look, it is really about building real, practical sustainability at a scale that's impractical or impossible for single-family homes. But hey, rotating skyscrapers are cool -- or could be, if they actually rotated to minimize heat entry while maximizing views and cooling window spaces. As a Certified Green Building Professional, I'd be remiss in not pointing out to anyone considering solar-panels just for their sexiness that most homeowners can get far more environmental benefit per dollar by a few simple conservation/insulation/efficiency steps.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing... Too bad it doesn't go faster! That would be fun. Really, though, what a major waste of energy!

12:27 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Like at the Malley's shop on Lorain!

10:38 AM  

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