Reinventing sustainability

Niki May Young
Monday 09 Jun 2008

Living skin could be the future in sustainable design

Credible sustainability solutions are at a premium in today's environmental climate and for product designer Agustin Otegui this enthusiasmoffers a golden opportunity - design solutions are his way of life. Having worked with BMW, Mini Cooper, Rolls Royce and Fiat to name a few motoring companies he is now using his eye for conceptual design to create a sustainable solution to the garish Wind turbine.

Otegui is in the process of designing a living skin which will not only be green in terms of its function but also in terms of its components. The Nano Vent Skin (NVS) features a living mesh of engineered planting which will be suitable for distribution over and inside many structures to channel wind power in different ways.

Still in the conceptual phase, Otegui has come up with several simulations of how Nano Vent may work. Renderings show the system atwork as cladding on a new tower and how it works both aesthetically and functionally. Other designs show the Nano Vent at work inside motoring tunnels to power lighting or on the side of existing buildings to supply electricity.

Nano Vent uses controvercial engineering methods which run the risk of being opposed but Otegui says: "NVS is not trying to reinvent or reshape nature. It’s just acting as a merger of different means and approaches into energy absorption and transformation, which will never happen in nature."

This is not a simple process. The outer skin of the structure absorbs sunlight through an organic photovoltaic skin transfering it to nano-fibers inside nano-wires which is then sent to storage units at the end of each panel. Each turbine on the panel generates energy by chemical reactions on each end where it makes contact with the structure. Polarized organisms are responsible for this process on every turbine’s turn.

While questions arise as to whether a living organism will be able to survive the punishments required for encasing tall buildings and dark tunnels Otegui states that the biggest challenge is the lack of technology at present: "We can only show what could be done, but we don't have the right technology and tools to develop it right now."

It is easy to be sceptical that Nano technology will ever go ahead. To this Otegui responds: "Definitely Nano-manufacturing is going ahead. As you know there is a lot of research right now in order to generate faster and more accurate means of production for computer components (chips, circuits, etc). This industry is then giving more access to small companies to start developing materials and components in a smaller scale for less investment.

"In the meantime people like Dr J Craig Venter and Nosang V. Myung are using living organisms as production methods to generate new cells and nanotubes.These are some of the people that have shown their work to the public. Many others like MIT don't show what they are working on, but we could expect something in the near future."

Niki May Young
News Editor

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