The rarely spinning turbines of the Strata Tower, south London

The rarely spinning turbines of the Strata Tower, south London

Voted ‘Britain’s ugliest new building‘ by readers of  Building Design magazine (and thus the holder of the  2010 Carbuncle Cup), the 43-storey Strata tower in south London presents a distinctive outline with its three turbines fitted to the roofline.

But do they ever move?

The rarely spinning turbines of the Strata Tower, south London

Designed by BFLS (formerly Hamiltons), the £113 million tower houses 408 apartments, of which just 98 are classified as “affordable housing.”

When the tower was proposed, the developers claimed that the three turbines would generate 8% of the tower’s electricity needs, but seeing as the things don’t appear to have moved for months, we suspect that figure is closer to 0% most days.

The changing London skyline: Brixton views

It seems that the posh folks living in the upper floor penthouses objected to the noise and vibration of the spinning blades, prompting project director Ian Bogle to suggest that they should be turned off between 11pm and 7am each night (Londonist, March 2010).

Since then, we’ve only ever seen the turbines moving a handful of times, although Ellis Woodman, the Daily Telegraph’s architecture critic, wasn’t  impressed with the whole concept, even if the turbines did work:

A skyscraper is an energy-greedy building form, both in terms of construction, and the power needed to take people to their front doors in a lift. To top one off with some wind turbines is the worst sort of greenwashing.

Some of the new residents weren’t too impressed either, with an Aug 2010 article voicing concerns about the tower’s heating in an article entitled, “Residents hit boiling point at the eco tower where turbines don’t turn.”

But the turbines have barely moved, according to its new residents. They also claim the single boiler down the side of the building is overheating their flats.

Resident Nathan Wheelhouse said: “When I left my house the other morning it was 28C at 7.30am — it’s tropical in there. The cold and hot water pipes flow next to each other. I feel like I’m in an eco experiment that has gone wrong at the design stage. I only moved in two weeks ago and I am not enjoying it.”

The rarely spinning turbines of the Strata Tower, south London

A view of the Strata tower in December 2011. The turbines weren’t moving.

London Razor - high tech skyscraper with built in turbines

March 2010 view of the tower under construction seen from Brixton. More: London Razor skyscraper packs wind turbines, Bladerunner-style.

Here’s the glossy promo video, showing off the penthouse suites:


23 Comments on “The rarely spinning turbines of the Strata Tower, south London”

    1. Its not so much the noise or vibration that has shut the turbines off, more like the £54,000 + vat a year maintenance costs for generating hardly anything that is the real factor. I know, I was involved in the second year budget for that building.

      1. I’m a resident on a 8th floor block in pimlico and I can honestly say this huge fancy tower one at St George’s wharf that has a wind generating rotor on the top is a white elephant.
        It never rotates. I’ve even emailed the manufacturer in Wales to see if they have had some teasing problems, they never replied….. Perhaps there’s another good story to tell on this not so eco friendly development?

  1. Houston, Texas (USA) has a similar building called the Hess Tower. It serves as an office building, but no contains no residences. We had a huge wind storm (I can’t recall if it was a hurricane … which Houston is prone to have) many years back, and one of the blades came off and fell to the street below. Luckily, no pedestrians were injured or killed.

    Soon after that, they removed the windmills at the top of the building. A shame really because I thought it was such a great, futuristic design.


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