Friday, December 17, 2010

Spectacular Tent Is Largest in World in Kazakhstan

In the capital city of Astana, Kazakhstan, rises the largest “tent” in the world – Khan Shatyr Centre. The cable-net, tensile structure soars 150 meters to form the highest peak on the Astana skyline, providing dramatic views over the city and the Steppes beyond. The building encloses an area of more than 100,000 square meters with retail spaces, parks, a beach, restaurants and entertainment facilities. Designed by Foster + Partners of the UK, this urban oasis is designed to withstand the wild temperature extremes of Kazakhstan – from a sweltering 40+ degrees C in summer down to a bone-chilling minus-40 degrees C in winter. Supported by a giant tripod, the tent is covered with a transparent polymer material called ETFE that allows daylight to enter the interiors while sheltering them from weather extremes. Foster, along with engineers at Buro Happold, created a system that harnesses solar gain in winter and releases warm air to the apex in summer. The structure is so large that small weather systems can develop inside because of the extreme conditions outside – this was the big challenge for the designers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recreation Center in Germany Powers with Solar

The Steinhude Sea Recreation Facility building is only about 3,500 square feet with services for public toilets, lifeguard facilities, a small cafe, an observation deck, boat storage and a generator for supplemental power for the kitchen. Its photovoltaic system provides enough power for the building needs, as well as for recharging a fleet of eight solar-powered rental boats. There's even excess power to sell back to the grid. The PV panels (153 square meters in surface area) are integrated into and stretched along a sweeping roof that also provides daylighting with its innovative glazing system. A natural gas turbine generator provides additional power for peak loads associated with the cafe. The project is located on the south shore of Steinhude Sea in north-central Germany; it is on the 46,000 square meter (11.4 acres) Bath Island, attached by a bridge to the mainland.