"Great works are often born on a street comer or in a restaurant's revolving door."
Albert Camus, writer
The concept of a revolving door is not, for want of a better word, revolutionary. It is simply a rotating door made from several "wings" as opposed to one flat panel. But the architectural, social, and environmental implications of revolving doors are rather intriguing.
The first patent for a revolving door was awarded to H. Bockhacker in 1881. Although they did not become commonplace until much later, several patent applications were filed for revolving doors before the close of the Victorian age. They included one filed by Theophilus Van Kannel in August 1888 for a three-winged "storm door structure" to guard against the elements. Van Kannel also highlighted the fact that his door only rotated in one direction and could therefore control the flow of people traffic and minimize the risk of a collision.
A well-designed door can do more than stop people walking into each other. The most frequently made claim about revolving doors is that they reduce energy loss by keeping warm air from escaping—four rotating wings mean that there is never a direct passage between inside and out. Research carried out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) showed that revolving doors can actually save significant amounts of energy.
In 2008, designers at Fluxxiab in New York unveiled plans for a revolving door that not only saves energy but creates it. Their "Revolution Door" technology, which works in a similar way to a wind turbine, captures the kinetic energy generated by the movement of a revolving door and turns it into electricity.