It seems clear that our urban ideal has changed a lot since 1937: for the International Exhibition in Paris of that year, the construction of the Lighthouse of the World (Lighthouse of the World), a 700-meter concrete tower whose greatest innovation consisted of a road that climbed in a spiral following its contour to the top, so that cars could ascend to a parking lot and a restaurant at the top. Fortunately, that monstrosity, designed by the engineer Eugène Freyssinet, never got to see the light.
But although today they are preferred more sustainable, ecological and reasonable urban solutions, the current vision does not prevent risky proposals from being launched, with a greater or lesser pretense of being carried out. These are some of the most curious, innovative or extravagant ideas that circulate today.
The hanging skyscraper
Who could come up with the idea of capturing a asteroid in Earth orbit and hang a flying skyscraper on it? It has occurred to Clouds Architecture Office, a New York design studio that recently collaborated with NASA in the design of a inflatable ice covered igloo intended to serve as a Martian habitat. The Analemma Tower, which is how they call their new proposal, would be a building several kilometers high, powered by solar energy and vertically divided into sections for various uses, from residential and commercial to agricultural and even funeral.
Tower would hang from an asteroid orbiting about 50,000 kilometers from Earth. In this way, the skyscraper would be close to the geosynchronous orbit (36,000 kilometers), where the satellites do not vary their position with respect to the earth’s surface. In practice, Analemma would describe ua figure 8 on the world map, from New York, through the Caribbean and Central America, to the coast of Peru. A ground station, located in the path of the building, would briefly dock with it during its daily passage for the transfer of goods and people. The authors of the project propose that the tower be built in Dubai, as the emirate “has proven to be a specialist in tall buildings with a fifth of the cost of construction in New York,” they say.
Other (almost) impossible buildings
The asymmetric crystal needle conceived by the Arconic company I wouldn’t hang from the skybut couldn’t be closer to him. As a tribute to classic cartoons The Jetsons (in Spain, The Supersonics), whose protagonists lived in the year 2062, the company of new materials and technologies proposes for that date the construction by 3D printing of a 4.8 kilometer high skyscraper that it would not only stay clean, but also sweep the atmosphere. All this thanks to EcoClean, a coating material that retains and degrades environmental pollutants. The building would also be dynamic, with windows that transform into glass balconies.
More modest in its dimensions, but no less risky in its concept, it is The Big Bend (the big curve), the inverted U-shaped skyscraper designed by Oiio Studio, the firm of Greek architect Ioannis Oikonomou. The building, which Oikonomou would like to see materialized as part of the skyline New York, it would exceed 61 meters in height to the new One World Trade Center, but from end to end of the U it would measure a total of 1,220 meters, setting a record of length that is difficult to overcome.
This seems to be serious: in the face of the threat that sea level rise due to climate change devour two thirds of its territory, the government of French Polynesia signed last January a contract with the San Francisco company (USA) The Seasteding Institute to study the construction of a floating city from 2019, provided that the necessary legislation to carry it out is approved beforehand.
The Seasteding Institute’s is not the only floating cities project, although it is the one that has at least gotten the interest of one government. But whoever has ever wondered if his apartment on the beach could not move a little further, to the sea itself, and already sail around the world touching ports, should know that this already exists: it is called The World, and it is a luxury residence cruise ship owned and operated since 2002 by the Miami ResidenSea company. But there are also those who have tried to scale this idea to the size of a city. In the 90s, the American engineer Norman Nixon conceived the Freedom Ship, a city ship one mile long and 25 stories high. Nixon died without seeing his project realized, but today some of his partners continue to try to find investors interested in embarking on this adventure without fear of a financial wreck.
In 1964, the biochemist and science fiction writer Isaac asimov predicted that half a century later, in 2014, we would inhabit underground dwellings. Those were other times, and what for Asimov was the utopia of the future today would be hell for many. And yet the idea of take advantage of the subsoil to live it is by no means ruled out. The Mexican firm Búnker Arquitectura is the author of the idea of the Rascasuelos, a inverted pyramid that would pierce the earth under the famous Zócalo of Mexico City to a depth of 300 meters, almost the height of the Eiffel Tower, with 65 levels of offices, homes and shops to accommodate about 100,000 people.
Although the idea is still strange today, there are already precedents on a smaller scale: also in Mexico City, the Garden Santa Fe is an underground shopping center glazed towards the sky in its center, according to the same idea of the Rascasuelos. Other cities such as London or Helsinki are exploring the urban extension towards the subsoil, and in New York the world’s first underground park, Lowline, in a former tram station.
The Martian Emirate
A Chicago-sized city on Mars for the year 2117. This is neither more nor less the project announced last February by the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has already distinguished itself by its megalomaniacal constructions and his futuristic technological visions, the penultimate of which consists of launching in Dubai next July a service of air taxis autonomous; that is, without a pilot.
According to the Vice President of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Mars 2117 project is intended for “the UAE to lead international efforts to make this dream come true.” Still got a century to work on it, but one thing is clear: if anyone has the money to make it possible, it is them. At the moment, the UAE is working on laying the first stone, a scientific probe that will be launched to Mars in 2020.