Re-Wind: Architectural Design Studio and the Re-Purposing of Wind Turbine Blades

Ruth Morrow, Russell Gentry, Tristan Al Haddad

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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This paper discusses the opening moves of an international multidisciplinary research project involving researchers from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US, aiming to address the global problem of end-of-life disposal of wind turbine blades. The problem is one of enormous scale on several levels: a typical 2.0 MW turbine has three 50m long blades each containing around 20 tonnes of fibre reinforced plastic (FRP). It is estimated that by 2055, 16.3 million tonnes of material from the global wind industry will await disposal. Whilst land-fill is the current means of disposal, the nature of the materials used in the composite construction of wind blades (glass and carbon fibres, resins, foams) means it unsustainable. Hence, the project sets out to deploy innovative design and logistical concepts for reusing and recycling these blades. The project begins within an innovative joint design studio, staged between Queen’s University Belfast and Georgia Institute of Technology, where architecture students will, within the highly-constrained contexts of the blade properties and the potential reuse sites, systematically generate, filter, and prototype a selection of proposals, reusing the decommissioned wind turbine blades in buildings, infrastructure, landscape, and public art. The paper sets out the social and environmental context for the work and discusses the decision-making infrastructure provided by the Centre of GIS and Geomatics at QUB – both in terms of locational data and their potential to organize and facilitate decision making. The paper analyzes the potential and risks of considering this highly constrained and yet multidisciplinary problem within the context of a Masters level Architecture studio. The paper concludes with an analysis of how outcome-driven design problems challenge traditional design studio cultures, acknowledging the need to make processes and ideas more explicit in order to categorise, analyze, rank and refine proposed architectural solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages109
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2018
EventSustainable Ecological Engineering Design for Society International Conference: Enabling Sustainability: Impacting all stakeholders - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 06 Sep 201807 Sep 2018


ConferenceSustainable Ecological Engineering Design for Society International Conference
Internet address


  • wind blades
  • reuse
  • design
  • architectural design
  • repurpose
  • design studio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Waste Management and Disposal

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