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Link - article by Avi Abrams

Gigantic mega-projects from recent years that will awe and inspire you
(even if they'll never be built)

"A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier." --Mies Van de Rohe, legendary architect.

By that logic, a colossal 2 kilometer high mega-structure should be really easy to visualize and put together. Of course, this is exaggerated and only meant to emphasize thoughtfulness in design. But speaking of immense skyscrapers... We've already talked about gigantic city-structures of Paolo Soleri. Today we are going to see more gigantic and highly imaginative chairs... er, no, mega-structures that were proposed in the last four decades - plus we are going to briefly look into the past, for a glimpse of glorious retrofuture.

We'll start with the re-imagining of the good old Hoover Dam - which includes a "Tower in a Dam", and looks like something dreamed up by Megatron:

(image via)

This design by UK architect Yheu-Shen Chua has been awarded Third Place in eVolo's 2011 Skyscraper Competition: "One of the main purposes of the project is to allow the water from the upstream river to engage directly with the visitors through a series of containers. A hanging tower above the 700-foot drop into the Black Canyon would be used as gallery and a vertical aquarium."

Belgian Architect Vincent Callebaut dreamed up a combination of skyscraper and airship, where the skyscraper itself floats in the air, feeding on a green "algae" energy: the "Hydrogenase" project is as eco-sustainable, as it is beautiful - more info:

(images credit: Vincent Callebaut)

Vincent Callebaut uses organic shapes in his designs and and dreams BIG - see all of his fantastic projects here.

Floating Observatories: Unreal Tower Proposed for Taiwan

Strange combination of a tree-like skyscraper and huge Zeppelin airship-inspired floating observation decks is a radical vision by Romanian Dorin Stefan Birou Arhitectura - more info and images here

(image via)

The flowing shapes of this skyscraper remind us of the work of late Jan Kaplicky: on the left is the new national library in Prague, on the right is the Selfridge building, part of the Bullring complex in Birmingham, England:

(image via)

The Taipei City Museum of Art concept by OODA is based on two hypercubes and looks like an alien artifact:

Another alien creature-like Taipei concept is proposed for the Performing Arts Center, by B+U design:

(image via)

Colossal Projects Conceived in the 1980s-1990s

This is a huge tower that was at one time planned for Moscow (by Norman Foster and Partners):

(images via 1, 2)

In 1995, a truly gigantic structure was conceived for Tokyo: X-SEED 4000 - four kilometers high, 800 floors, the tallest building ever envisioned (on the right). Image on the left shows scaled-down two-mile high tower:

Inside the X-SEED 4000:

on the right is yet another super-building concept for Tokyo, conceiving at the height of Japanese asset price bubble in 1989 - Sky City 1000:

The Shimizu TRY 2004 Mega-City Pyramid was another super structure proposed for Tokyo: "The proposed structure is so large that it cannot be built with currently available materials, due to their weight. The design relies on the future availability of super-strong lightweight materials based on carbon nanotubes."

"Large robots would assemble the truss structure, and air bladders would be used to elevate trusses above the first layer using a construction system proposed by Italian architect Dante Bini. Spheroid nodes at the connections between trusses would provide structural support and serve as transfer points for travelers."

On the left is "Project: Spiral" 1000-meter high, designed for Tokyo in 1998. Right image: Noida Tower concept for Noida, india:

(images via)

Jumeira Garden District structures for Dubai (left) and Seoul Commune 2026 project for South Korea (right):

Dating from 1997 is the Bionic Tower concept for Shanghai and/or Hong Kong (with possibility of building the "Bionic Tower Vertical City" 1.228 meters high):

(images via)

New Thoughts in Mega-scale Architecture

Algorithmic Architecture! More than just a catchy term, this is a great tool in coming up with organic and nature-inspired forms, based on mathematical algorithms:

(images via 1, 2)

...especially for bridges (more info):

(image via)

Boston Arcology (left) is a mega-structure concept by Kevin Schopfer, who also came up with the amazing New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) (right image, more info). This building was designed using golden proportions and will house 15,000 people:

(left image via)

The Living Mountain project, again from 2011 Evolo Skyscraper Competition, is created to grace the desert of Taklamakan in northwest China:

(image via)

Gardiner Expressway in Toronto is proposed to become the site for mutating "living organism" mega-structure - more info:

(image via)

Ocean Arcologies: Floating Mega-Cities

Gigantic skyscrapers and mega-cities can grow not only up high, but deep down in the water. This "Water-Scraper" is a rather creative re-thinking of a floating island idea, made for eVolo design competition - more info:

(image via)

Floating cities is not a new concept by any means. Here is a sketch from Popular Mechanics, 1931:

Japanese firm Shimizu also came up with a floating city concept, consisting of floating islands, or rather the "lily-pads" drifting in the equatorial Pacific:

(image via)

On the left is illustration by Paul R. Alexander from the article "Energy from the Ocean: A Resource for the Future", 1989"... On the right: City on the Sea, architect: Eugene Tsui -

(images via)

To give you an idea of the UNDERGROUND super city, here is art from Astounding Stories, November 1937:

Other Elegant Proposed Skyscrapers

Organic forms of all varieties seem to be all the rage nowadays: on the left is "Tree of Life" skyscraper by Ukraine architects (info); on the right is the fantastic "Hydra", which can take energy from... lightnings!

Imaging living in a place that is designed to be struck by lightnings... in a safe manner, of course (more info)

(images via)

The "Hydra", designed by Milos Vlastic, Vuk Djordjevic, Ana Lazovic, Milica Stankovic from Serbia, seems to be the most radical architectural concept out there right now, correct me if I'm wrong:

(images via)

This quite beautiful eco-friendly structure was designed by Indian architect Vikas Pawar for the city of Noida - more info

(image via)

Another eVolo concept worthy of mention is the Flat Tower, by Yoann Mescam, Paul-Eric Schirr-Bonnans, Xavier Schirr-Bonnans, France:

(image via)

Here is 1 Dubai: at 850 meters, it consists of three linked towers, clad in "mosaic-like glass and aluminum-mesh cladding" - designed by Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill:

(images via 1)

Among most elegant proposed skyscrapers we'll have to mention yet another colossal concept for Dubai (featuring beautiful spiral shape) - Dubai City Tower, 2500 meters high:

Glorious Retro-Future Urbanism from the Golden Age of SF

It's been some time since our Glorious RetroFuture Urbanism, Part 1. Since in retrofuture time moves in both directions - dreaming of the future in high style of the past, it's never too late to come up with an update:

(left image via; right image: Popular Science, 1933)

"Metropolis" poster by Boris Bilinsky from 1926 and a street view:

Frank R. Paul's vision of a mighty city from "Amazing Stories", 1928:

Note the "slides" cascading down the building! This picture is from 1934:

Moving armchair transportation system, 1939:

Certainly not for those seeking some exercise and weight loss.


Also Read "Gigantic City-Structures" ->




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Anonymous Whitehouse said...

You forgot an the "l" in "html" in the link.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you. Fixed.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great imagination, but these concepts are just absurdly impossible and rather jarring to look at.

Blogger Built not bought said...

Loved this post. Isn't the human imagination wonderful.

Anonymous Max said...

I'm the first to applaud a non-conformist building design, but lots of concepts these days seem to be all about being outlandish with zero regard to practical usability; much of the organic craze looks suspiciously like "just because we finally can build like that (and want to be as different as possible for the sake of being as different as possible)".

Anyway, my grand prize always goes to those "we'll need to build it using adamantium, but we'll surely have it by then" loonies. If it really works like that, I can has my teleport gates and warp drive now please (oh, and don't forget my flying car and robot servant)...?

Also, on a related note, it might not be quite such a good idea to quote Tesla in this day and age when he kinda seems to be remembered more for the lunacy of some of his ideas than the genius of those that he actually got right, especially those concerning "wireless power"...

...nevertheless, nice roundup. :)

Blogger graves666 said...

Looks like these several of these architects are compensating for something...

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Max, good comment; I want my teleport gates now too. But I am really excited by the idea of combining the skyscraper and the airship. Not practical? Maybe. But this was the dream of SF writers since the 1920s.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodness...all the naysayers need to relax and learn how to DREAM! Who knows...maybe we're heading into an age that will allow such marvelous things to actually happen!

Loosen the cage around your imaginations!

Anonymous Kathleen C Baker said...

While these are all great feats of engineering, personally I prefer architecture that is softer on the eye. Traveling to places that have old-world architecture is more my scene.

Blogger Steven Van der Werf said...

Nikola Tesla, much like Albert Eisntein, gave up when he realised that the world [or close associates] did with his ideas. We have no way of knowing whether his 'crazier' concepts would actually work - bearing in mind that no-one else managing to make them work is *not* evidence that they wouldn't.

As for the advanced materials required, there's this lovely stuff called graphine that could be ideal, if ways can be found to produce it cost effectively.

Meanwhile, here's to the dreamers!

Anonymous Scott MC said...

I admire creativity but in design terms prefer simple classical architecture, up to five floors, just nice and roomy with some quality local artisanship, accordant to the environment

Anonymous Scott MC said...

Arcology rocks, thanks for the link

Blogger EndlessWaves said...

I'd think the Floating structures would be possible if you could build them large enough (volume increases faster than surface area as you scale up, so you can use more of the surface areas of big baloons than small ones), I guess the difficulty with them is preventing a catastrophic failure.

The rest look more reasonable, although there might not be a lot of usable space in the lower levels.

And yeah, it's the inside of the building that really matters. A pretty outside is nice but there's not much point in building these if nobody's going to enjoy being inside them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, this organic style literally makes me nauseous. It makes me think of the vital organs dripping out of some giant body in the sky. Horrid.

The straight edges and regular angles of midcentury modern designs give me a feeling of confidence and comfort, and make me think of a steady hand, working diligently with discipline to construct a rational environment.

Blogger Unicross said...

Hi, the building in the image top right below this caption "The flowing shapes of this skyscraper remind us of the work of late Jan Kaplicky..." is actually the Selfridge's building, part of the Bullring complex in Birmingham, England. I walk past id daily! if you Google the images for Birmingham Selfridge's you'll see a few more interesting views of this modern architectural marvel.

Blogger Flippy Doodle said...

Another wonderful post, thanks a lot.

Everyone's obsessed with skyscrapers, aren't they? Almost all of them consist of redesigning skyscrapers.

The "tree" shaped ones are pretty cool. But the "flat" ones are the best, because they're a shift from the usual norm.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's one you missed. A man with a plan!


Blogger Yoghurt-space said...

Although these almost sci fi like concepts are amazing. I would prefer an art deco megastructure like on the last pictures.

Altho I'll probably go insane from seeing a sci fi mega structure as well C:


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