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Dunster aiming higher with new 'flower power' concept

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Bill Dunster Architects has unveiled a proposal to step its sustainable building concepts up a gear and apply them to tall buildings. The practice is currently showing its designs to developers and housing associations.

Dunster says the current vogue for tall buildings does not mean that energy-saving or sustainable issues should be put to one side.

Instead, he argues that both carbon-free schemes and high density residential developments should go hand-in-hand.

'Instead of being a complete liability, tall buildings could become a valuable addition to the energy needs of the UK, 'Dunster told the AJ. 'With all this high density thinking, we really have to be very ambitious and not just put up lots and lots of very dull flats.'

Dunster has designed a 200m 2urban unit consisting of a tower (which can go as high as 35 storeys) and low-rise housing along the lines of his 'BedZed' sustainable housing designed for the Peabody Trust. The 'flower tower' is designed as four 'petals' which channel the wind into a central shaft lined with turbines, while south-facing facades are to be lined with photovoltaic cells.

Engineer Whitby and Bird estimates that the tower and surrounding buildings will generate all their own electricity. Cost viability has been carried out by Gardiner & Theobald.

The tower, built largely from reclaimed timber and 'ground granulated blast-furnace slag' in an effort to make it as 'carbon neutral' as possible, contains work and community spaces on its lower floors.A sports ground and reed beds for recycling all grey and black water are to be located behind the tower in the building's shadow.

Dunster is offering the concept as a self-contained live-work district capable of achieving densities of up to 115 homes per hectare. This would vary according to the height of the tower, which can be lowered or raised in blocks of five storeys.

Dunster reckons that the extra money generated by high-density tall buildings should be plowed back into energy-saving features: 'Land value is determined by how much density you are allowed to put on a site. If you get permission to build another storey, then you're able to pay for wind turbines and so on.'

'But this is purely a speculative concept, ' he warned. 'No one commissions these things. It's about architects showing what might be done, and then teaming up with engineers and cost consultants to show what is possible.'

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