Going Green in the Desert

Oil-rich Dubai is no stranger to innovative architecture, but here’s a design that does more than just win awards and startle tourists. Der Spiegel Online reports that German architect Eckhard Gerber wants to construct a 68-story skyscraper in the Gulf State that will be entirely emissions free and energy independent. The proposed Burj al-Taqa, or Energy Tower, would use cutting-edge materials, conservation, and clean power generation to achieve new levels of environmental efficiency and self-sufficiency.

A unique shape, window glazing so state of the art that it won’t be available until 2008, and a solar shield covering 60% of the buildings’ surface will render the building thermos-like in its ability to shield those inside from the scorching desert heat, which can reach 122°F (50°C). The structure will generate its own electricity through a wind turbine, and solar cells on the roof, and a floating island of solar panels in the sea nearby. Other features will include a circulation system that funnels air into the building—in part using natural wind currents—and then cools it with seawater.

Many of the technologies involved have yet to be tested outside of a computer simulation, and all that green goodness comes with a price tag of around $406 million, so don’t expect to see one of these babies going up on your block anytime soon. However, if built, the Burj al-Taqa could herald a whole new era in eco-friendly urban construction