Rotating revolution

Italian architect David Fisher discusses his plan to build Dubai's first rotating skyscraper.

INTERVIEWS, Design

In an exclusive interview, deputy editor Conrad Egbert talks to Italian architect David Fisher about his plan to build Dubai's first rotating tower and how it could revolutionise the way the world builds its skyscrapers.

Tell us about this tower?

The Dynamic Tower will be 78 floors and will rise up to about 420m. It will cost almost US $700 million (AED 2.5 billion) to build and is expected to be ready sometime in 2010.

The building will have 80 pre-fabricated apartments built around a central column and the capability of rotating continuously.

 

This is the future of construction. You save 10% of construction costs with this method and as you know, that is a big thing.

Wouldn't that use up a lot of energy?

Not at all. In fact the energy required to rotate the tower is very low as there is hardly any friction between the floor and the supporting elements.

Would it need less energy than a regular building?

No, it would need additional energy to rotate a floor but the rotation itself would produce energy.

The tower will have 79 power-generating wind turbines that will be located between each floor and these will produce a lot of energy.

So basically this building is going to be self powered. You won't have to link it up to a grid. It will be the first building of its kind in history. It will be able to survive on its own and on the contrary it will produce energy that we will then be able to channel towards surrounding buildings.

How will it work?

There are two elements. Every skyscraper in the world suffers from wind pressure at high altitudes.

The Burj Dubai, for example, may bend 4m to 5m so it has to have a very flexible curtain wall and stronger foundations which then translates into additional costs.

In our building when the wind blows on the floor, instead of bending it, it pushes it and causes it to rotate. Every floor has a turbine that will be more than sufficient for the floor. There will be left over energy to power other buildings.

How many other buildings would it be able to power?

A few buildings - about three or four buildings of similar sizes. It's such a logical concept.

Today the biggest problem in real estate is not price, not location but power. I was told that about 60 or 70 buildings in Dubai cannot be delivered on time because of a shortage of power supply. So the new tower is the future.

Have you ever built a tower like this before?

I spent a lot of time on construction sites. I'm an architect. But since 1985 I started to develop construction technology. I could not believe we design and build in such a stupid and primitive way. We have built huge domes all over the world with this prefabricated technology.

I did prefab bathrooms, the first of which I did in Dubai by the way at the Meridian Airport.

It was in components and was all done in factories.

This is the future of construction. You save 10% of construction costs with this method and as you know, that is a big thing.

How long will this take to build?

We plan to build a floor a week. We'll build the skyscraper in one year and finish it. The core will take two days. And every two days you go up one floor.

This is proven technology. As the core goes up, we start putting in the floors as well.

Theoretically I need two months for the foundations and then one month for the initial core where we can start adding the floors simultaneously. Nothing can be faster.

How will you bring in all the pre-constructed parts?

We will bring them in components and bring them in parts -not the whole floor. Each part will be smaller than a room - as big as a container as it's easier to ship.

How much will this cost?

Regardless of the movement it will cost less than a normal building because it's all going to be done in a factory. Imagine the amount we'd save on labour.

On any skyscraper's construction site in Dubai you'd have at least about 2000 workers. For our tower all we need is 90 workers plus 700 in the factory. And the 700 will work from the workshop so they'll have better conditions and so higher efficiency.

Is the workshop here?

Yes it is. We plan to work from here. Ninety per cent of the work will be done in the work shop. In the same time we start the foundation.

We will not do the production here but we will assemble it here.

We have the same technology as Airbus or Boeing.

Can a building like this be as strong as a normally constructed building?

I believe it will be stronger. In a normal building you have endless columns and beams and joints between the two.

You don't have the same tension in each point because each column is a different distance from the foundation and a different distance from a joint and so that results in uneven and unbalanced tension. And there are many other elements.

This core is just one solid tube of concrete. There are no joints. It's like a tree. And that's got to be stronger. So it is much better than any normal structure.

Are you planning to build this sort of tower anywhere else in the world?

The Mirax Group plans to build a similar, 70-storey skyscraper in Moscow and another in New York.

We're looking at other places in the world, too.

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