The Kinetic Skyscraper, which earned honorable mention in eVolo’s 2011 Skyscraper Competition, will surprise gardeners with its similarity to a blooming foxglove. In the skyscraper’s case, however, the blossoms are housing units attached to a main shaft, or exoskeleton, which provides elevator service and doubles as a conduit for electricity cables, water supplies and other associated utilities.
With the Kinetic Skyscraper, the petals are actually insulating, acoustical panels, also known as SIPs (structural insulating panels), which open and close on demand rather than in response to sunlight. Additionally, the SIPs in the Kinetic Skyscraper are embedded with carbon fibers, making them even stronger than traditional structural insulated panels, which rely on a foam core sandwiched between oriented strand board, or OSB. In spite of which, the SIPs used in this skyscraper have a very small environmental footprint combined with very high insulative values, and are both safe to use and highly versatile.
The Kinetic Skyscraper concept, developed by Victor Kopieikin and Pavlo Zabotin of Ukraine, targets Mexico City, with its population already around 20 million and expected to continue growing, leaving the earth, water and air in the region badly polluted and potentially unbreathable without a mask. To address these problems, the Kinetic Skyscraper offers many units of affordable housing in a small area, thanks to building up rather than out, and provides additional, enclosed green spaces for recreation or gardening using the cooled water from an onsite geothermal plant like that used in the Clock Shadow Building in Milwaukee.
Additional power will be provided via solar panels all over the building façade, and the issue of polluted air will be addressed by using cyanobacteria to create an isolated (and thus protected) self-cleaning atmosphere. This process also provides a form of passive thermal energy that can be converted to electricity via a waste heat recovery process, thus addressing all the issues the eVolo competition sets as obstacles to developing vertical density in an overcrowded future world.