Life has its source from water. Without water, the human body dies within days. It needs the fluid to transport oxygen, nourishment, and fats to the right places. The shown concept pays tribute to the omniferous importance of water as an irreplaceable energy supplier.
We use water to create mechanical and electrical energy for centuries. But big reservoir dams and barrages have a huge impact on their environment. Small hydroelectric facilities do not influence their natural neighborhood as much, are ecologically compatible and can help buildings to be energetically independent.
Wind, solar and hydropower gain more and more importance in the production of our global energy household. We use solar panels on our roofs, but we barely use wind or hydropower plants directly where they are needed - implemented in our buildings. Although this proposal is situated in rather extreme conditions - at the Tugela Falls in South Africa - its basic design idea can be adapted anywhere worldwide. Close to a river, buildings can use the natural water flow to be energetically self-sufficient. The scale of the building can vary from just a couple of stories to highrise levels, depending on site and angle of ascent, which both are optional and modifiable.
The building bends slightly over the edge of the cliff, not only to provide spectacular views and extraordinary spaces to celebrate the landscape it's embedded in, but also to explore and push the boundaries of multi-story timber constructions. The goal was to develop a constructively reasonable and statically pre-dimensioned structure that is contrary to and unlike other, regular highrise buildings, but still realistic and aesthetically appealing at the same time. The proposed timber-structure pulls its energy needs - like a tree itself - directly from the ground beneath it.
The project is structurally divided into two parts. The solid foundation that harvests energy from surrounding water streams houses technical building equipment, storage facilities, kitchen, cafeteria, and bar and lounge area underground. Above ground rises a light-weight wooden structure that tilts over the edge of the cliff and harbors the entrance and exhibition hall, seminar rooms and office spaces, as well as dorms and living rooms.
The profiles of the sloped timber columns narrow upwards regarding the statically determined minimum and are pulled back and grounded by steel ropes. A circulation core which is surrounded by four straight wooden columns connects both structural elements and all levels vertically with each other. The front and back facades are fully opened and glazed to concentrate the user experience to the essence of the encompassed environment. The lateral sides are coated with vertical wooden boards. Internal walls can be connected and all necessary installations can be installed individually and flexibly.
The triangular volume impersonates the shape of a tree and assimilates its dynamic scenery and functional flow.
Except for the outer walls of the building's underground part, which are made out of on-site concrete, all elements can be prefabricated in high quality and stacked together and recycled with ease.