As the Earth’s population increases, cities are becoming cramped and over crowded. Architects are working hard to come up with concepts on how to overcome these problems and some of these concepts are well, how to say it, less thinking outside the box and straight out insane. But maybe insane is just the answer we need to house the 9 billion people who will be roaming the globe by mid century. So lets take a look at the top 5 insane future sky scraper concepts…
Also known as Cityscrapers, arcologies are essentially entire cities crammed into a single high population density megastructure. For anyone who has seen the Judge Dredd movie, you know too well the potential downside for this type of living, however given cities are running out of space, this idea seems to be popping up more and more and I believe it is only a matter of time until it becomes a reality. From Tokyo to New Orleans, plans have been submitted for gigantic city style buildings that will provide everything a resident needs without ever needing to leave the building.
Whilst the technical term of an arcology means that we already have some existing arcologies — research stations in Antarctica and even technically the Las Vegas strip whose series of underground tunnels connect the 3 mile strip meaning one might never have to go outside and even the experimental Masdar city on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi fits the criteria — the type of arcology I am most excited about is the city in the building concept.
For example the 366m tall New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) which could house 40,000 residents and sit on the banks of the Mississippi, designed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with the ability to float in the event of another hurricane or flood.
Whilst these buildings are still the work of science fiction, the model is actually working on a much smaller scale in Whittier, Alaska where nearly every single one of the towns 214 residents all reside in a 14 storey building that also serves as a post office, library, council chambers and includes an underground tunnel to connect to the school. Residents in the town have everything they need and could literally spend weeks indoors.
When you can’t go up, go down — well at least that was the theory when Mexican Architect came up with the concept of the 65 storey below ground inverted pyramid being dubbed the “Earth Scraper”
“There is very little room for any more buildings in Mexico City, and the law says we cannot go above eight stories, so the only way is down” explains Esteban Suarez, co-founder of BNKR Arquitectura, the firm behind the proposals.
The plan is for a massive 240m x 240m glass roof with a huge Mexican flag above, being Mexico City’s main public square. There would then be a 300m deep inverted pyramid which would allow natural light to get to the depths of the building. The first 10 floors are set aside for a cultural centre and museum. With the next 20 floors being residential, then commercial and office buildings.
The cost of building Mexico’s rabbit hole is projected at $800m with Suarez conceding that getting natural light and fresh air down to the lower floors will be a problem and he is investigating a “system of fiber optics” that could deliver sunlight from the surface. The design also includes a series of earth lobbies that would store plants and trees with the intention of improving air quality and raising the morale of residents of the subterranean building.
It is very difficult to get any recent news on this with most sources coming from 2011, whether this means the earthscraper will only ever be a Mexican pipe dream, who knows
Given that 71% of the earth’s surface is oceans, and if climate change has its way then that number is going to increase the old adage in real estate that “we are not making any new land” is ringing closer and closer to home. As an answer to this, there is now a push towards finding ways to live in/on the ocean with one of the latest ideas being ‘Oceanscrapers’. This is an avenue being pursued by numerous architecture firms, although no one is actually in the process of actually building one yet. An oceanscraper which is also known as a seascraper or waterscraper is a proposed large building which will function as a floating city. It would generate its own energy through wave, wind, current, solar, etc. and produce its own food through farming, aquaculture, hydroponics, etc. Currently architecture firms in Malaysia, Netherlands, Belgium and of course the Japanese are working on concepts of how we can build these floating cities plus make them completely eco friendly.
Some designs have livestock and forests on the top level, with residential units floating just below the surface and commercial spaces deeper underwater. Whilst there are a host of complications to overcome — the most obvious being how to plan for leaks, most of the technology actually exists or could be easily adapted. Countries such as Dubai (of course it’s Dubai) and Fiji are already working on underwater hotels with a live view of the marine life, the biggest question is would people actually want to live underwater permanently, especially knowing that if something goes wrong, they will literally be sleeping with the fishes.
Vending machine skyscraper
Where else but Tokyo, Japan’s capital city where you can literally buy anything from a vending machine, including used panties from teenage girls, however if this concept actually sees the light of day, you will also be able to get your own 3D printed home from a vending machine styled skyscraper. The concept was thought up by an architecture student at the University of Manchester and would essentially see a giant 3D printer sitting atop the building, reusing waste in order to create a pod which can then be carried down the building by huge mechanical arms and slotted into an available space.
Pods could be used for residential or commercial and when the user is finished the pod would be removed and then recycled into a new pod for the next buyer.
The student who designed it says ‘The high-precision construction method of 3D printing would significantly reduce the amount of labour, time, costs and material waste. I think that the robotic construction of homes would be the sensible solution to address the growing demands of the housing market.’
Whilst my personal belief is that this style will not ever actually come to fruition, it does set the scene for a different type of living, think instead of 3D printing the pods onsite, instead use the pod concept and robotic arms moving the house into place, for transportable pods that can travel the country or world with residents being able to ‘book’ into a space for 2–3 months and then leave again taking their pod with them.
Suspended from an asteroid
Analemma tower is a concept designed by Cloud Architecture Office which is literally out of this world and takes a new meaning to skyscraper with a 24,000 meter tower hanging from 50,000 km reinforced cables tied around an asteroid that has been pulled into a geosynchronous orbit above the planet. Ironically the hardest part of all of this behemoth project is designing an elevator system that would be capable of ascending the building, given our fastest elevators today move at 20 meters per second, it would be a 20 minute journey from the bottom of the tower to the top.
Due to the asteroids orbit the building would follow a figure 8 path across both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, arriving back to its original start position over New York every 24 hours. Whilst a project of this scale is full of major issues to over come — from how do you even get onto the building when it is travelling at approximately 300km per hour, or what to do about air friction which would obviously be affecting different areas of the tower at different levels. -
The lower two thirds would be offices, restaurants and retail with the upper third would be private residences. Given the nature of the building there would be no possibility for outdoor areas — because you know lack of oxygen etc -.
The firm who designed it said it would be a way to eliminate the threat of tsunamis, earthquakes and floods because it would not be on the ground. However in the event the asteroid became unstable and fell to earth the building will probably be a pretty messy ground zero spread across multiple countries.
This concept may seem completely impossible and the architect firm that created it admitted it is just an idea that pushes the boundaries of how we should be thinking about living, and giving today’s technologies, it is highly unlikely to see anything of this magnitude any time soon.
Whilst these concepts above are simply just ideas, it might be this out of the box thinking that will change how we overcome many of the space issues we currently face.