The World

What do you get when you cross a skyscraper with a sailboat? That’s the question for today’s Geo Quiz.

Architects are known for pushing limits and testing out new designs. A new skyscraper in the island nation of Bahrain is a case in point. Oil rich Bahrain has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. And it’s showing off that economic prosperity with a new Trade Center in its capital city.

Click to see a video of a skyscraper powered by windClick to see a video of a skyscraper powered by wind

That’s the city we want you to name.

It’s located at the edge of the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf. The newest thing in town is the skyscraper that stands at one end of King Faisal Highway. It’s the first mega sized structure to integrate wind turbines into its design. The building itself functions like a giant sail, catching the power of the wind that blows in off the Gulf.

We’ll hear more from its designer, but first try and name the city…

There’s something new on Bahrain’s skyline. It’s a pair of wind powered skyscrapers. The 800 foot towers loom like a giant windmill over Manama’s city scape. Manama is the answer to our Geo Quiz today.

The World’s Kristine Allington has more:

Three massive windmills hang between the 50-story towers of Bahrain’s new World Trade Center. The turbines are powered by the wind that blows in off the Gulf of Bahrain. They’re designed to generate up to 15% of the buildings total energy demand. Simha LytheRao is the Project Manager for the wind powered skyscraper:

“Bahrain is an island which sits in the middle of an expanse of water and it heats up quite significantly and that does create a regular and prevailing wind so its an ideal place to put turbines without any doubt.”

The spinning wind turbines are an impressive sight. Picture 3 windmills — each about 100 feet across and supported by bridges weighing 65 tons. When the wind blows, they generate electricity for the building’s retail and office spaces. The overall architectural design has a maritime theme. From a distance, the dual towers look like giant sails. The curved form of the structure says LytheRao is more than aesthetic, it’s functional:

“The building is a sail shaped building, twin towers, it faces directly onto the prevailing wind and the building uses the wind and it draws the wind onto the turbines, it speeds the wind up as it hits the turbines it also distributes the wind vertically in an equal way so the velocities are the same for each turbine and it also manages to really carve the wind up so that irrespective of wind direction up to 60 degrees off the horizontal, it manages to bring the winds directly onto the turbines, so that they’re hitting the turbine at a right angle.”

You’d think that Giant blades twirling, and electrical gears grinding away would be a little distracting but LytheRao says that when you’re inside the building, you hardly even notice the spinning turbines.

“You hear absolutely nothing within the buildings, you feel absolutely nothing in the building, issues of are really marginal, so within a 14 hour period we managed to generate 1400 kilowatt hours which may not sound a lot to an electrical person, but over a long period of time, having the turbines running full on will certainly have an impact on reducing the energy demand of the building and reducing carbon emissions from the building overall.”

That energy design sets the Bahrain World Trade Center apart from other prominent skyscrapers.

It’s the first skyscraper to integrate wind turbines into its design, and they’re already generating power. Simha LytheRao says the project may even be generating interest among international architects who are trying to design more energy efficient structures:

“I think really it’s a broader issue than just can you put turbines on a building? Yes, you can and let’s go and do it…there’s absolutely no reason why somebody can’t go out in another country under different conditions. And maybe not do something with turbines maybe do something with a combination of different renewable energy production measures, I think its more of a spur to other people to go and do something different.”

The building’s two towers are in the final stages of construction, but the wind turbines are already up and spinning in the Bahrain breeze.

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