soundscraper. Source: eVolo 2013 Skyscraper Competition
Soundscrapers could soon turn urban noise pollution into usable energy to power cities.
An honourable mention-winning entry in the 2013 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, dubbed Soundscraper, looked into ways to convert the ambient noise in urban centres into a renewable energy form.
Noise pollution is currently a negative element of urban life but it could soon be valued and put to good use.
Acoustic architecture, or design to minimise noise, has long been an important facet of the architecture industry, but design aimed at maximising and capturing noise for beneficial reasons is an untapped area with great potential.
The Soundscraper concept is based around constructing the buildings near major highways and railroad junctions to capture noise vibrations and turn them into energy. The intensity and direction of urban noise dictates the vibrations captured by the building’s facade.
Covering a wide array of frequencies, everyday noise from trains, cars, planes and pedestrians would be picked up by 84,000 electro-active lashes covering a Soundscraper’s light metallic frame. Armed with Parametric Frequency Increased Generators (sound sensors) on the lashes, the vibrations would then be converted to kinetic energy through an energy harvester.
The energy would be converted to electricity through transducer cells, at which point that power could be stored or sent to the grid for regular electricity usage.
The Soundscraper team of Julien Bourgeois, Savinien de Pizzol, Olivier Colliez, Romain Grouselle and Cédric Dounval estimate that 150 megawatts of energy could be produced from one Soundscraper, meaning that a single tower could produce enough energy to fuel 10 percent of Los Angeles’ lighting needs.
Constructing several 100-metre high Soundscrapers throughout a city near major motorways could help offset the electrical needs of the urban population. This form of renewable energy would also help lower the city’s CO2 emissions.
The energy-producing towers could become city landmarks and give interstitial spaces an important function. The electricity needs of an entire city could be met solely by Soundscrapers if enough were constructed at appropriate locations, also helping to minimise the city’s carbon footprint.