From the guillotine to the submarine, English ingenuity has struck again, this time harnessing human body heat to bring warmth into the Parisian hearth.
Engineers from Buro-Happold have designed a sterling subterranean eco-experiment, which sucks the body heat off Paris metro commuters and spits it into the homes of social housing tenants.
Each train traveller emits approximately 100 watts of calories in the underground, and coupled with the heat produced from moving trains, metro temperatures hover around 17 degrees Celsius year round.
The project, which is based on geothermal technology, transfers the metro warmth via passageways connected directly to the building. The energy transfer will complement established heating systems, slashing a third off carbon emissions.
Francois Wachnick, from social housing group Paris Habitat, says it’s rather fortunate there’s a passage connecting the building to the metro, otherwise the scheme would have “gone the way of the dodo”.
While the project is also being trialled in Austria, it won’t become a commonality at this stage, simply because it’s too impractical. Buildings using the scheme would need a duct-like connection into the underground.
Dr Patrick James, research engineer at the University of Southampton, says it’s an ecologically cracking idea, however if there’s a train strike in winter, tenants could be submerged in frozen misery. The building’s tenants, however, appear not to be dwelling on the negatives.
George Highway, a lonely eccentric in flat 6, is thrilled by the endeavour. He says the warmth of many bodies transported into his home makes him feel surrounded by personalities, as if he’s “engaged in an intimate subterranean festival every night of the week”.