The Tower of Droplets by Sir Peter Cook
and Gavin Robotham


CRAB by Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham

This algae-producing tower designed by Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham of London studio CRAB came second in the recent Taiwan Tower Conceptual International Competition.

CRAB by Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham

The project, a conceptual design for Taichung in Taiwan, features a tower with a series of steel cages attached that will be covered in algae to produce biofuel.

CRAB by Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham

The competition was won by this design featuring floating observation decks attached to giant helium balloons.

The following information is from the architects:


From a field of 237 entries from 25 countries, London’s Cook Robotham Architecture Bureau will receive the $ 65,000 second prize for a tower that is based upon the growing of algae in layers of droplets.

The entire tower is inspired by the creation of energy. Living energy which must be……… Visible living energy SYMBOLISING THE VISIBLE ENERGY, ENTERPRISE AND INVENTIVE OPTIMISM OF THE TAIWANESE PEOPLE. The droplets are the primary elements of this process. Their activity, presence and form resonate throughout the scheme.

Much of the tower is open to the public to view the processes at close quarters. Even from the lifts, the daily state of vegetable husbandry will be visible. A variety of different arrangements of plantation and localized environment are distributed over its length. The principal purpose of the tower is to CREATE ALGAE.

When watered and filtered the algae create BIOMASS used as food for fish and plants and for making paper and BIOFUEL for powering engines. This process takes CO2 (a known hazard in Taiwan) out of the environment.

In the basic tower we provide 10.888 M2 surface of algae which produces 3,266,400 liters of oil and produces several thousand tons of biomass in a year. The same structure could be further developed – with accumulated Income and more bags to a maximum of double the surface and thus creating 6,532,800 liters of oil.

The structure is a series of steel lattices that wind around the steel elevator cores. The droplets are steel cages with membrane skinning. There are 3 observation levels:

TOP OBSERVATION LEVEL : overlooks the mountains
MID OBSERVATION LEVEL : contains areas of hydroponic vegetation growth : enabling PUBLIC VIEWING of plants and processes
LOWER OBSERVATION LEVELS : contain aviaries and aquaria

There are 3 office zones, all are used by the City development Authority. THE MUSEUM at the base of the tower contains 5 floors On its top are viewable algae systems. At middle levels are exhibition zones based of techniques developed by the authors at the Kunsthaus Graz (Austria) and the War Museum of the North.

Tower team : Jenna Al-Ali, Nuria Blanco, Lorene Faure, Selma Johannson
Consulting Engineer : Miike Kaverne of Buro Happold

See also:


Hydrogenase by
Vincent Callebaut
Eco-pods by Howeler + Yoon
& Squared Design Lab
More green sustainable
on Dezeen

Posted on Sunday November 28th 2010 at 12:21 pm by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • bombast

    i see a person with a giant vacuum..

  • mmm

    another one of these pseudo-conceptual towers, it's almost as silly as the one that won this competition.

    I remember a scene involving both the senior and the junior architect of the winning entry (published last week on Dezeen), back at the university of Bucharest. There was a discussion about Dutch conceptual architecture. About Pig City, about other innovative concepts, I believe. While the beautiful city of Bucharest was slowly crumbling apart and constantly abused outside, someone from the atelier dared to suggest the conceptualism was a result of the Netherlands having 'real problems'. Meanwhile, the atelier continued in foolish 3d-studio games dressed-up by pretentious descriptions to hide the pure nothingness it was embodying.

    I have great respect for Dorin Stefan – it is one of the few people I met who only talks when he has listened, and only then when he has something to say. And I do strongly believe conceptual thinking can create better architecture by being more smart, more ambitious, challenging problems by addressing their roots instead of seeing architecture as the job of beautifying the given.

    But this pseudo-conceptualism is just an excuse to stick ones head in the ground. It has 0 ambition. It's mediarchitecture. It's pretending to create advanced architecture by creating absurd non-solutions to non-existing problems of which the architect proves he does not have any understanding of.

    Pig City of MVRDV was smart because it was realistic. It created lower costs, higher quality for animals, less energy use. It was a tool to hit in the very core of a problem, being, we are not in fact interested in real life quality of animals, but in the idealistic image of it. We can accept the reality of industrial farming as long as we can hide it as a barn. MVRDV's conceptual superpragmatism – the ironic collages of idyllic pig-skyscrapers – made impact because nobody could argue against it without facing the hypocrisy of the discussion.

    This project is window dressing. Baked air with 0 impact. And it irritates the hell out of me. Because why hide in techno-kitch when we can actually make impact making things better? Especially in Bucharest.

  • cotsios

    i see middle age crisis…

  • archidamm

    I feel ashamed I once thought P.Cook was the way

  • Grapes

    Sadly I agree with the comments above :( Archigram is was and still is amazing but time to let go.) no thought went into this one.

  • James

    The cyborgs are coming! The cyborgs are coming!

  • I think maybe too much thought went into this… Over designed perhaps?!

  • Emerson Wilshier

    I love it. The sooner we turn all the sci-fi book covers from the 1960s and 1970s into actual places, the better.

  • Memo

    Is that some sort of superhero outfit ????

  • durhambrewing

    You know your questioning the strength of your project when you decide to overload your renderings with birds …

  • starchitect

    Internal views please!

  • a.gassi

    marcos cruz head of bartlett was in the jury…. might be a coincidence that mr. cruz did is march and his phd with peter… sorry, but this is not how competition should work…

  • Steve

    sorry, there have no internal views for a project like this

  • mmm

    off the topic, but marcos cruz should never have been the head of Bartlett…

  • Maybe this ridiculous mess would have been more interesting for the 2012 Olympic tower than Kapoor's ridiculous mess…

  • Steve

    hahah this is how those Bartlett thosands of photoshop layer + B&W pencil shading + birds in the sky on 250/300 mg matt rough paper would look like in materiality and reality

  • Martin

    A little better than DUBAI-STYLE, which's dominant everywhere, in all the competitions and non. Can some one help me to find an architecture being out of EMIRATE-STYLE? beside Cruz mediation

  • Akeel

    Alienated !

  • Ashish

    The need to think about green or sustainable architectural concepts is imperative, however, I believe the approach should be more realistic. Concepts such as this one certainly look dfferent and innovative, but lack the very essence of architecture. Kengo Kuma’s green cast project or the algae-powered building facade by Arup is much more ‘constructive’ than this ‘tower of droplets’!