Heatherwick Turns Biomass Into a Thing of Beauty

A brilliant designer unveils a new biomass station for a riverbank in Britain.

Stockton-on-Tees Power station

Heatherwick Studio has just released its design for a biomass station on the banks of the River Tees in British town Stockton-on-Tees, for British company BEI.


The facility is expected to pump out 49 MWe–enough to power 50,000 homes. Those homes are expected to see their per capita carbon footprint cut by as much as 80%, since the electricity will be generated simply by biomass generators that will burn palm kernel shells, rather than coal.

Thomas Heatherwick, Heatherwick Studio’s founder, has a genius for offbeat architecture, made with experimental techniques–for example, he designed a colony of houses with tinfoil and a bridge that curls up like a snail.

This time, the building has been conceived as less of a power station, and more of a local attraction and amenity. The building’s skin will literally be green, made up of exterior panels planted with local grasses. Inside, in addition to offices and the biomass factory, there will be a visitor’s center.

The project is expected to cost about $242 million and take two years to construct. A groundbreaking hasn’t yet been announced.

For more on Heatherwick, check out some of their previous projects here and here.

Stockton-on-Tees Powerstation

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.