Towering Turbine: The Squall Tower in Dubai is designed to rotate with the wind

Designed by Turkish architectural design studio Hayri Atak, this unique parametric skyscraper design set in Dubai seeks ‘electric’ inspiration from vertical wind turbines.

by Anmol Ahuja Published on : Feb 05, 2021

Literally speaking, the term “squall” refers to a sudden storm with strong winds. Aptly named in that context, the Squall Tower combines modern, signature skyscraper aesthetics with a unique, self-sustaining functionality. The parametric skyscraper proposes an interesting design fusion: it derives both, its form and function, elementally from a windmill or a rotating vertical wind turbine, machines that have been around for decades now. Harbingering that inspiration into the modern era of smart buildings using sophisticated parametric tools of design, the Squall Tower not only looks at emulating that mechanism and make to generate its own electricity, it looks to do that in acute style. Rather than a single rotating element or a group of those, the design looks to have the building rotated along a central axis in order to power a turbine at its base to generate electricity.

  • The tower design comprises three helical masses clad in glass | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    The tower design comprises three helical masses clad in glass Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio
  • Held by a central spine, the tower and its rotating ‘arms’ are attached to a large rotating base plate | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    Held by a central spine, the tower and its rotating ‘arms’ are attached to a large rotating base plate Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio
  • The top of the central spine also incorporates a helipad | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    The top of the central spine also incorporates a helipad Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio

The concept of BAPS (Buildings as Power Stations) has been a ploy in the realm of sustainability and the impact our buildings have on our ecosystems for long now, with the Bahrain World Trade Centre recently being in the public eye for having incorporated a trifecta of rotating windmill rotors on its façade. Though currently at the visualisation and conceptual development stage, the Squall Tower that twists also ploy to incorporate a daring aesthetic.

  • The Squall Tower is envisioned to be a unique stand-out from the Dubai skyline | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    The Squall Tower is envisioned to be a unique stand-out from the Dubai skyline Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio
  • The towers’ form allows it to rotate irrespective of wind direction | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    The towers’ form allows it to rotate irrespective of wind direction Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio

Held together by a central glossy, tree-like branching spine, the building comprises three helical, twisting masses clad in glazing. Each of the branches holds what can be called a distinct “floor plate”, that is in vertical succession connected to other floors and bound to a rotating base. In essence, the rotating tower that easily lends itself to the commercial category of buildings can facilitate changing views of the stunning Dubai skyline, apart from, of course, generating power in theory. 

  • Squall Tower completes one rotation in 48 hours | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    Squall Tower completes one rotation in 48 hours Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio
  • Animation showing the rotating mechanism of the Squall Tower | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    Animation showing the rotating mechanism of the Squall Tower Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio

The twisting, ribbon like masses also lend an essential functional angle to the design of the building. As opposed to planar fans/rotors on windmills that are highly dependent on wind direction, Squall Tower’s segmental helix allows it to rotate at a constant speed irrespective of wind direction, completing one rotational round in 48 hours. Further optimised, I see the potential for such a building to not only be self-sustaining in terms of energy generation and usage, but to actually have a negative carbon footprint, as is the need of the hour, giving back surplus power to city blocks around them. The possibilities are endless, but there remains a bridge to be crossed between design and execution before something as ruminative but fanciful as the Squall Tower might become a reality.

  • Squall Tower: Roof Plan | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    Squall Tower: Roof Plan Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio
  • Squall Tower: Side Elevation | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    Squall Tower: Side Elevation Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio
  • The rotating mechanism also ensures that the inhabitants get a dynamic view of the Dubai skyline | Squall Tower by Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio | STIRworld
    The rotating mechanism also ensures that the inhabitants get a dynamic view of the Dubai skyline Image: Courtesy of Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio

Project Details

Name: Squall Tower
Location: Dubai, UAE
Time taken for conception of design: 2 months
Design Team: Hayri Atak, Kaan Kılıçdağ, Büşra Köksal, Kübra Türk
Stage: Concept Project

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