The windmill has been re-invented, and did you know you could now live in it? Designed by the Dutch and called the Windwheel, it will stand as an iconic landmark in the Dutch capital Rotterdam’s skyline and will be an unprecedented tourist magnet attracting up to 1.5 million visitors every year. The 174- metre high Windwheel, giving an illusion of a floating wheel, consists of two concentric three-dimensional rings of glass and steel with underwater foundations. The outer ring houses 40 cabins rotating on a giant rail system. The inner ring offers a Panoramic Wheel experience. It is not only a windmill, but also houses a breathtaking panorama restaurant, a 160-room hotel spread over seven floors with spectacular views, a sky lobby, 72 apartments and commercial outlets.
The Programmatic Ring complements the Panoramic Wheel experience. The circular elevators and staircases are situated in the core structure. A subterranean parking of 1,000 spots will be ample to serve this building. Parts of the facade are so-called ‘smart walls’ — glass panels that include a virtual layer of information that give the visitor an extra dimension of information. A 3D rollercoaster interactive cinema can take you for a trip through the Dutch water management system. The innovative lighting concept and digital information layer in the cabins of the giant coaster add to the experience of the Windwheel.
The Windwheel’s unique contemporary architectural design is packed with an array of sustainable and energy efficient features. The most striking element is that the inner ring is in fact an innovative windmill. Based on electrostatic wind energy convertor (EWICON) technology developed at the Delft University of Technology and the Wageningen University, the bladeless wind turbine produces electricity using charged water droplets without any moving parts. Tubes run through the centre of the ‘wheel’, and each tube features several electrodes and nozzles, which release positively charged water into the air through a process that’s been dubbed ‘electrospraying’. The result is that the Dutch Windwheel has less wear and tear because there are no moving parts, and hence lower maintenance costs, no noise and no moving shadow.
The proposed Windwheel is also equipped with solar PVT — photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collectors. Energy efficiency is further enhanced by the Climate Adaptive Building Shell, which interacts with the variability of the environment to contribute to energy-saving for heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting; and induce a positive impact on the indoor environmental quality of building. Conventional buildings have static building envelopes, and can therefore not act in response to changing weather conditions and occupant requirements.
As part of its water management, the Windwheel will capture and use rainwater and recycle tap water into the constructed wetlands that surround it. Organic waste collected from the building (bathrooms, kitchen, etc) will be used to produce biogas.
Built with locally sourced material from the Rotterdam region, the harbour and the surrounding steel industry, the Windwheel can be disassembled for re-use. The Dutch Windwheel is of great economic value for both Rotterdam and the Netherlands. It is an initiative of the Dutch Windwheel Corporation, being put together by a consortium of Rotterdam based companies BLOC, Doepel Strijkers and Meysters.