First Published in
Never content to be categorised, Thomas Heatherwick has turned his architectural hand to a biomass-fuelled power station. The resulting design is rare and distinct for this type of building.
Commissioned by Bio Energy Investments LTD (BEI), the BEI-Teesside station in Stockton-on-Tees will be powered by palm kernel shells, the by-products of palm oil plantations. Considered a cleaner and more environmentally friendly way of generating electricity, biomass produces stable, constant electricity that is unaffected by the climatic elements. However, as these power stations become more prevalent, it is essential that they be integrated into society in some way.
“Over recent decades we have neglected the cultural contribution industrial infrastructure can make to our society,” explains Heatherwick. “Now, with the impetus of alternative energy production we have an opportunity to make new power buildings updated to fit this age. It is exciting to be working with BEI to redefine this type of building and celebrate energy production again.”
This is precisely what Heatherwick has done. By using panels to line the building and planting indigenous grass within these panels, the power station will blend with its surroundings, becoming a part of and almost indistinguishable from the landscape. He has also used organic sweeping curves to create a power station that resembles more an art gallery than a relic of the industrial revolution.