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July 31, 2009 @ 4:54 pm
Swedes Have Turning Torso and Human Heaters

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torso-zoom A few years back I was in Copenhagen over Thanksgiving weekend and took a day trip to Malmӧ, Sweden. I took the train through the Drogden Tunnel and across the Öresund Bridge which is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe (nearly 5 mi or 8 km). I set out primarily to see the Turning Torso, designed by Santiago Calatrava, one of my favorite architects. I also perused the Nordic contemporary art at Malmӧ Konstmuseum, saw the Malmöhus Castle and strolled around the beautiful Lilla Torg and other city squares and streets.

At 190 meters high (54 stories), the Turning Torso is the tallest building in Sweden, a landmark of sculptural architecture and a green building anchor of the eco-friendly Western Harbor redevelopment. This section of the city had become a dilapidated, contaminated and underutilized industrial park. City planners then commissioned Calatrava to design a statement building based on his Twisting Torso sculpture and the result is a marvel of engineering. A circular concrete shaft runs through the center of the building and houses the mechanical infrastructure. Attached to the shaft are segments of five floor plates that successively rotate to create the corkscrew effect. Meanwhile, the whole structure is supported by its artistic external steel frame. The bottom ten floors contain offices, the middle forty-two floors contain 147 apartments and the top two floors contain meeting spaces. My favorite feature is that because the top floor is a 90 degree turn from the bottom floor, the windows on the eastern side of the building actually tilt outward! You wouldn’t want to live there if you had a fear of heights…

torsoThe amazing design incorporates a number of green features. The building receives 100% of its power from locally renewable energy. The thick insulating walls and windows of the building envelope ensure efficient use of this energy. Environmentally friendly materials were used in construction and other installations enable residents to manage their environmental impact. For example, they can monitor and adjust their own heat and water consumption and use built in waste disposals to grind organic waste for composting or other uses. Additionally, the self contained community of the Western Harbor neighborhood and it’s proximity to central Malmö lessens the need for cars; a short walk away are the beach, green spaces, stores, services, restaurants, waterfront promenade and more. Continue reading for the enigmatic “human heater” portion of the post…

Stockholm is not known for its heat, but every day the 250,000 pedestrians making their way through Stockholm Central Station generate lots of excess body heat that goes to waste…until now. A Swedish company called Jernhuset plans to use the unharnessed energy to heat a nearby office and retail complex to be completed in 2010. The plan is simple: radiated body heat is captured by the train’s ventilation system where it heats water that is pumped to the adjacent structure to supplement the heating system. For only 200,000 krona (about €19,000 or $27,000), the project should reduce the new building’s heating costs by 20%. Imagine what we could do in New York City with heat harnessed from all the subway stations during summer? For those who haven’t had the pleasure, waiting on the platform in late July can feel like Journey to the Center of the Earth.

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stockholm-stationStockholm Central Station
Photo credit:
seadipper via Flickr 

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