Arcologies

As the world’s population continues to boom so does density in major conurbations. This increase in density is actually increasing around the world as an influx of people move to the cities in search of jobs and the (often hollow) promise of a better life. The shift from oil to biofuels is augmenting the problem because land that may have been used for development will be required to grow the crops needed for energy production in the future.

This leaves the world’s major cities with a conundrum: how do you accommodate more people in the same space? For many the answer lies in the architectural philosophies of Paolo Soleri, an Italian-American visionary accredited as the father of arcology. If you have ever played Sim City 2000 you may or may not already be acquainted with the arcology, a structure of mammoth proportions created to accommodate large populations in sync with the surrounding environment.

If you thought that Dubai had a monopoly on the biggest developments and architectural oddities, think again! Here are some of the best proposed arcology-inspired sky / vertical cities from around the world to feast your eyes on.

Shimizu TRY 2004 Mega-City Pyramid, Tokyo

Shimizu TRY 2004 Mega-City Pyramid

Shimizu TRY 2004 Mega-City Pyramid: The dimensions of this sky city are nothing short of staggering. If ever completed the Shimizu TRY 2004 Mega-City Pyramid will stand 12 times higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt at 6,574ft tall with an area of 3 square miles at the base. The structure would consist of 8 layers stacked on top of each other which would have a total area of 34 square miles. Each layer will consist of smaller pyramids each roughly the size of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas with layers 1 through 4 devoted for mixed residential and commercial usage and layers 5 through 8 for leisure and social facilities. There will be accommodation for 750,000 people, or 1/16th of Tokyo’s 12 million strong population. Getting that many people around will be a challenge met by a zero carbon, personalised rapid transit system and a network of accelerated walkways and elevators that connect the city via 55 strategically located nodes. The exterior facade of the proposed hyperstructure will be sprayed with a photovoltaic coating to convert sunlight into electricity for a greener city.

X-Seed 4000, Tokyo

X-Seed 4000

X-Seed 4000: Note: X-Seed 4000 is an architectural dream, a proposal that was originally drafted in 1995 with the sole intention of drawing attention to the designers who came up with the masterplan. Nevertheless we think the X-Seed 4000 is awesomely cool, even if it is permanently consigned to the drawing board. At 13,123ft tall the X-Seed 400 would eclipse even Mount Fuji whose iconic shape has been attributed by the architects as their inspiration. The $1 trillion teepee-like, self-contained hyperstructure would be supported by a frame of pillars, each habitable. There would be 800 floors with 26 square miles of space capable of housing anywhere between 500,000 – 1 million people. Of course all sorts of technology would need to be developed to make such a gigantic project work including next generation rapid transit networks, high speed elevators and a system capable of moderating huge fluctuations in temperature, wind speed and air pressure throughout the building. X-Seed 4000 would be powered entirely by the sun, although it is unclear whether this would involve covering the facade with photovoltaic panels or next generation thin film solar panels. The interior of the building does appear to adhere to the Soleri’s ideology of humans in coexistence with nature; as seen above there is no shortage in terms of indoor foliage. The question remains: who would want to live in the shadow of a 2.5 mile tall building? Mental.

Sky City 1000, Tokyo

Sky City 1000

Sky City 1000: Sky City 1000 is an ambitious 3,280ft tall self-contained city first proposed by Takenaka Corporation in 1989 to help restore green space to Tokyo’s urban congestion. If Takenaka’s vision of an answer to Tokyo’s problems gets the green light we’ll see a city that fulfills Soleri’s visions. Sky City 1000 will consist of 14 glass-protected plateaus with a total floor area of 3.1 square miles that would be home to vast green spaces. The mixed use building will house 36,000 permanent residents with space for a further 100,000 workers as well as schools, shops, theatres and other social facilities. Next generation, triple-deck high-speed elevators are currently in development that will form the backbone of Sky City 1000′s transport system, allowing people to get from the ground floor to the top in just over 2 minutes flat. Each plateau will also have a monorail system which will help move people laterally. In theory Sky City 1000 will help reduce the high temperatures often seen in Tokyo by freeing up more land that can be reclaimed and turned into green space. This project is still at the proposal stage but authorities in Tokyo actually take it seriously; Sky City 1000 may turn out to be the world’s first arcology.

Millennium Tower, Tokyo

Millennium Tower

Millennium Tower: The cone-shaped, 2,755ft tall Millennium Tower was first proposed in 1989 by Foster + Partners to address the acute shortage of development land and overpopulation in Tokyo. The tower will be constructed 1.2 miles offshore in Tokyo Bay and stand 170 storeys high with 0.4 square miles of floor space for mixed residential and commercial use. Millennium Tower will be capable of sustaining a community of 60,000 residents who will move vertically and horizontally throughout the arcology using a high-speed metro network in cars that can hold up to 160 people at a time. This system will stop at transportation hubs available on every 13th floor where passengers may disembark and continue their journey via lifts, escalators and moving walkways. The Millennium Tower will use wind turbines and solar arrays installed in the upper floors to provide sustainable energy for the entire building, making this one of the greenest arcologies presently envisioned.

Crystal Island, Moscow

Crystal Island

Crystal Island: Foster + Partners’ Crystal Island was recently granted preliminary planning permission for construction on Nagatino Peninsula, just 4.5 miles from the Kremlin. Crystal Island is a self-contained city that will soar 1,500ft tall with 0.96 square miles of floor space for mixed use, that’s 4 times the floor area of the Pentagon. This megastructure will accommodate up to 30,000 residents in 900 apartments but will also boast 3,000 hotel rooms, a cinema, theatre, museum, shopping malls, sports complex and an international school for 500 pupils. Panoramic views of the city skyline will be available on huge viewing platforms 980ft above the streets of Moscow. When completed Crystal Island will have one of the largest atriums in the world, which can be opened in the summer to regulate the temperature of the 500ft high public space inside.

Ultima Tower, San Francisco

Ultima Tower

Ultima Tower: Eugene Tsui is known for his enthusiasm for futuristic megastructures. His design for the 2 mile tall Ultima Tower in San Francisco is a response to increasing population density in San Francisco where space comes at a premium. The proposed Ultima Tower will have a 6,000ft base diameter with 500 storeys shaped like a giant cone that encloses 53 square miles of space. Tsui’s plans reveal a space capable of housing 1 million residents in a vertical city that meets and exceeds anything previously conceived. Ultima Tower will be a sustainable building powered by facade-mounted arrays of solar panels, wind turbines and a technique called Atmospheric Energy Conversion that will use the difference in pressure between peak and base to generate electricity. If ever constructed the Ultima Tower will have a unique stacked design with entire floors devoted to green space complete with 100ft – 165ft ‘skies’ for an open and non-claustrophobic feeling. One interesting thing to note: given the height of the building the journey from the ground floor to top would take just under 10 minutes travelling at 3 miles per hour in an elevator.

Bionic Tower, Shanghai / Hong Kong

Ultima Tower

Bionic Tower: The Bionic Tower is a proposed vertical city that has piqued the interest of Shanghai and Hong Kong, both cities with notoriously high population densities. If the project was to get the green light from either city it would reach 3,950ft tall consisting of 300 storeys with a total internal enclosed area of 0.8 square miles. The tower would be constructed on a 0.4 square mile artificial island connected to the mainland to allow the 100,000 inhabitants access. The cost of all this, in one of the most populous areas in the world? $15 billion.


52 Responses to “Arcologists Dream: 7 Proposed Futuristic Sky Cities”

  1. Barry on January 21, 2008 2:54 pm

    That is amazing stuff. I wonder if and when these types of cities are built, if only certain people will be allowed in. I better clean up my criminal record asap.

  2. Tom on January 21, 2008 9:12 pm

    The real problem with these is that no matter how many solar panels you put on the building, it is not sustainable unless it can provide food for the extra 50,000 people you are going to bring into a city. Our farms are already so maxed out that we are being forced to create super plants that produce their own insecticide. Before we do this shouldn’t we ask how we are going deal with that many more people?

  3. Swingcorey on January 21, 2008 9:42 pm

    I’m amazed that people are still dreaming these up after what happened to the Twin Towers on 9/11.

    I wonder what kind of anti-terrorism systems have been dreamed up for these mega-structures.

  4. Paul Wilson on January 21, 2008 9:52 pm

    What if we were to use these for farming instead?

  5. haydesigner on January 21, 2008 9:54 pm

    I would be much more worried about weather effects with all of these buildings. Not only how would they survive strong winds, hurricanes, etc… but also, would they actually start causing the weird weather in the air around them??

  6. vroman on January 21, 2008 10:12 pm

    its inevitable these things will be built. demand for land will eventually raise the price to the point where its cheaper to build up than out. but until that day comes, these ideas are irrelevent.

  7. Khannea Sunztu on January 21, 2008 10:21 pm

    Read “Oath of Fealty” by Larry Niven.

  8. John on January 21, 2008 10:37 pm

    Check out Hyperbuilding by Arcosanti!

  9. Michael on January 21, 2008 10:37 pm

    Perhaps I’m not grasping all of the architectural subtleties, but if the Ultima Tower is 2 miles high and the elevators travel at 3 miles per hour, wouldn’t the total time from ground to top floor have a lower bound of 40 minutes? (Assuming you’re traveling vertically, which is a best case scenario). Or is most of it underground?

  10. Richard on January 21, 2008 10:49 pm

    Combine one of these cities with several vertical farms and the food supply issues will be handled.

  11. Paul Guise on January 21, 2008 10:49 pm

    I saw on Discoverys Modern Marvels how they are going to construct the Mega-city Pyramid. Nano-tubes was mentioned more than once. Still, most of these won’t see the light of day but I would love to see the Crystal Island once its completed.
    Nice read. Thanks.

  12. Scott Lyman on January 21, 2008 11:02 pm

    So how are the seismic issues in Tokyo & San Francisco adressed?

  13. rajab on January 21, 2008 11:17 pm

    Where is Dubai?!

  14. Marshall on January 21, 2008 11:38 pm

    I’m a little confused by the Ultima Tower. It claims that it’s planned to be 2 miles high, yet traveling at 3mph it would take just under 10 minutes to reach the top? What kind of math idiots figured that out? 1h/3miles * 2 miles = 2/3hour = 40 minutes.

  15. The Inevitable Muck-up on January 22, 2008 12:10 am

    The world is going to look like a giant koosh ball in 200 years.

  16. Linkuri 22.01.2008 | Marius Sescu on January 22, 2008 12:11 am

    [...] Orasele viitorului – articol cu poze, uimitor [...]

  17. Matt on January 22, 2008 12:37 am

    Welcome to the police state housing estates.

    Cram us into compact mega cities that look all cool with fancy gadgets and CCTV everywhere. Gotta love it.

    Screw this fkn futuristic daydreaming. Give me a mountain range homestead with fresh air, nobody around.

  18. Ace on January 22, 2008 1:10 am

    Simply impressive.

  19. Orhan Kahn on January 22, 2008 3:19 am

    Wow, just wow.

  20. 7 Proposed Futuristic Sky Cities | AnyNumberOfThings on January 22, 2008 5:32 am

    [...] Arcologists Dream: 7 Proposed Futuristic Sky Cities (GeekAbout.com) [...]

  21. Joe on January 22, 2008 6:05 am

    Matt makes a Damn good point! Certainly one that I never really considered. About it being a “Police State Housing Estates”. Good term, by the way! Comments made by others also brought up some very legit concerns! Especially that of possible terrorist threats. And it seems that most of these structures would be practically situated right on top of some of THE most seismic areas in the world! It would seem an engineering nightmare to properly address and incorporate safety features in such a huge structure! I doubt if you would ever see me living in such a structure. Main reason being that I’m sure I will be long gone before they come to fruition. But secondly for all the reasons mentioned. You have to admit though, they are some pretty Damn incredible concepts! Cool Read!

  22. CodecX on January 22, 2008 6:58 am

    Midgar anyone?

  23. Scion on January 22, 2008 7:24 am

    I Love the Sky city, I hope i can see it in my life time. I also never heard about the Ultima tower.

  24. Phil M on January 22, 2008 8:10 am

    For those who saw the 3mph Ultima Tower elevator, didn’t bother checking the Ultima Tower website, and commented on the bad math:
    The Ultima Tower website states the elevator speed as ~13 miles per hour, which would bring the vertical transit time to just under 10 minutes.

  25. SFReader on January 22, 2008 8:13 am

    Read Oath of Fealty by Niven/Pournelle

  26. Chris on January 22, 2008 8:50 am

    “I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose—– Rapture. A city where the artist would not fear the censor. Where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality. Where the great would not be constrained by the small. And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well.”

  27. Brant on January 22, 2008 9:01 am

    KK I will admit that these ideas are like so bloody sweet but think about how u would be getting ur oxygen….pump in thru vents…what if ur sleeping and the solar panels and wind turbines stop working…where u gonna get ur air…espicially with 50,000 people breathing at once.

    Also think what would happened if there was a murder or somethin and the head guy decided to solve it we could just lock everybody in. whats to stop that from happening.

    and with the way the weather is changing with tsunami’s and eartherquakes whats to stop the buildings from toppeling over and killing everyone.

    And what about these monorails, outside if one derails the chances of lossing lives are great but if its done in an enclosed building and that thing flies off ur looking at thousands of people dying and then know wone would wanna live in them.

    I say build them but make them for studies and such, green house. Make into a green house and bring back the plant life and do some cloning and stuff.

    Well thats just my opinion.=)

  28. Me on January 22, 2008 1:11 pm

    The fire alarm goes off an you have to evacuate 1 million people… shooooooot

  29. links for 2008-01-22 « InfornographY on January 22, 2008 4:37 pm

    [...] Arcologists Dream: 7 Proposed Futuristic Sky Cities | Geek About More Babelian dreams. (tags: cool future list architecture coolshit) [...]

  30. TheMayor on January 22, 2008 4:39 pm

    Apart from the Moscow one are any of these concepts attached to their supposed city?

    Where in San Francisco would you put the Ultimo Tower? At that size the thing would practically BE San Francisco.

  31. Doug L on January 22, 2008 8:29 pm

    Simply being bigger and taller would have little appeal from the perspective of really being innovative and progressive in its approach. Foster’s “crystal Island” for Moscow (a sequel to his soon to be completed Kahn Shatyr in Astana, Kazahkstan) and Tsui’s “Mega tower” for SF are both a different in what I consider a significant way in that they encompass an inner volume that offer the possibility of creating an inviting environment,which, if done with a sensitivity to beauty in nature, is appealling.
    However both of these miss an opportunity to create a natural environment on the exterior where access to natural features in a park like setting would essentially create an ecosystem of itsown. What do people crave more than a doorway into a natural environment; looking down and out onto water features, trees with low hanging branches and pleasant open spaces, where one’s biophilia can be express; an important and overlooked aspect of nearly all urban settings for which we pay dearly in mental and social anguish exactly like those that plague our civic lives now. Compare living in San Francisco’s South Park area with living on Telegraph Hill. It’s not only location if one means simply proximity to the essentials, but more importantly, the views into natural beauty. It seems almost trivial but for that reason most big man made structures look uninteresting and are visually fatiquing after the initial astonishment wears off, until they approach the scale of a mountain, at which point they call out for the relief of natural patterns of shadow and highlights set in an interesting terraine. Check out Jeanne Gang’s AQUA tower in Chicago. I hope one day it is covered in small waterfalls, vines, weeping willows and dwarf birch. Even Calatrava’s gracefull spiraling tower, also in Chicago, nods in recognition of natures compelling and inspiring designs. Definitely a step in the right direction if humans are going to not just live there but thrive as a community.

  32. Nature Trademarked » Cities of the Future on January 22, 2008 8:39 pm

    [...] Geekabout posted a really interesting article yesterday on the construction of the cities of tomorrow.  We’ve seen examples of these in movies, old books about space stations and the general ideal visions that come to mind when thinking of the future.  Many of these so called “cities of the future” are technically one large structure that is meant to hold hundreds of thousands of residents.  While many believe that this holds limitless potential for the world as the population increases and we continue to build upwards into the sky, I am wondering if these “cities” will become more like gated communities or even act like countries as people migrate towards urban areas. [...]

  33. links for 2008-01-23 « Bob’s Weblog on January 23, 2008 3:18 am

    [...] Arcologists Dream: 7 Proposed Futuristic Sky Cities Here are some of the best proposed arcology-inspired sky / vertical cities from around the world to feast your eyes on. (tags: reference) [...]

  34. Hal O'Brien on January 23, 2008 8:21 am

    “Where in San Francisco would you put the Ultimo Tower? At that size the thing would practically BE San Francisco.”

    Alcatraz. Makes a spike with the rest of the bay as its setting. I’d prefer building Frank Lloyd Wright’s mile-high tower, myself, and making it the capitol of a newly independent California Republic (says so right on the flag)… but, hey, that’s just me.

  35. Yasser on January 23, 2008 8:44 am

    Kind of dangerous for so many people to live in one building.

  36. Grinch on January 23, 2008 12:28 pm

    From Sky City to The Ultima Tower(can you say FF7 Ripoff)the main concern is maybe instead of building bigger cities maybe we should all look at why the world is overpopulated in the first place. This of course is due to technology’s that help people sustain life longer than the natural selection process intended. In this I mean pace-makers, transplants, and everything in between. My opinion: Yes of course these are magnificant structures beautiful in there own way but, flawed inevitably by catastrophe’s, terrorist, pollution, people’s opinion to what is too big, and of course will the human race ever slow down enough to see one of these structures built before we destroy our own civilzation like the Mayan’s did to their’s.

  37. Ivar on January 24, 2008 3:56 am

    Very cool, I think the Sky City 1000, Tokyo is probably the best one to live in.

    About the terorist threat; I don’t think that will be a problem, as in 2030 (when the the first megacity is build) they all will be extinct and the biggest treat to the society are disturbed teens and engineering mistakes

  38. Jova on January 24, 2008 8:08 am

    It is a common misunderstanding that earthquakes area bigger problem the higher you go. The truth is that the higher the building the less impact the earthquake has because every building has a unique frequency and the higher the building is the slower the frequency is. For an earthquake to have a significant impact it would need to be much much slower than is possible. And it is truly stupid to thing that the engineer has not thought of this.

  39. Planet Apex on January 25, 2008 7:44 am

    Amazing structures! I saw documentary in Discovery about X-Seed 4000, Tokyo, they showed some incredible pics of it in it. It would have been great if you had added them here. Special a pic of the tower at night. That was a super image.

  40. ModMidMod » architectural links on January 27, 2008 8:29 pm

    [...] » Proposed futuristic Sky Cities [...]

  41. Monday morning links serving: The January 28th edition on January 28, 2008 3:31 am

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  42. Melinda on January 28, 2008 11:25 am

    Wow, amazing design. I wonder how likely it is that any of us are alive when the finally come around to building it.

  43. Links Of The Day: January 28th on January 28, 2008 5:30 pm

    [...] Arcologists Dream: 7 Proposed Futuristic Sky Cities – Wow, these designs for future indoor cities are just amazing. I wonder if any of us will alive when they finally get around to building them. [...]

  44. Phreekoid on February 1, 2008 6:57 pm

    Ugly!Ugly!Ugly! What is it with these crazy arse architects…Don’t they realise that great architecture is supposed to serve and enoble humanity, not waste resources and bolster the inflated ego of their creator.
    The only way that architecture can serve humanity in the coming millenium is if it is sustainable and ecologically responsible and there is no way,even with the biggest spin,that these structures could ever be considered that.

  45. Saturday Linkage | fourth edition on February 23, 2008 7:40 am

    [...] I have also looked at Seven Proposed Futuristic Cities. Funny how modern architecture tends towards towers/tall structures (and has done so for about a century). I would be much more interested in futuristic cities preoccupied with ecology, sustainable energy and fabulous architecture. Surely these things are not mutually exclusive? [...]

  46. Don on March 25, 2008 6:38 pm

    Also check out the ideas of visionary Bucky Fuller and his geodesic domes & Cloud 9 airborne structures!

  47. Glen on August 2, 2008 5:59 am

    Having looked at all these incredible idea’s and having read everybodie’s comments; I’m sure the architects will have at least addressed some of the wildest fears like fires. I think there would be some sort of containment system between the floors of these structures, to prevent it spreading very far. Earthquakes ( Ultima Tower for example) are more worrying on the face of it; but like what Jova say’s, these problems will have already been taken care of, to spread out the tremor and to also absorb the shockwaves.
    Instead of going ‘up’ all the time; how about building DOWN???
    Taking all safety issues aside, there would be much less impact on the landscape once it is completed, plus you wouldn’t have to go thousands of feet down. 2-300 feet spread over a wide area would be able to hose thousands of people. It could be also served by it’s own police.
    Maybe not now; but I can see in 75-200 years time, that will be the way to go. It just needs someone with enough vision and ‘sway’to make such a proposition toget things started.

  48. ricky on September 20, 2008 6:28 pm

    (science fiction is mere science fact) which is yet to be proven.ricky.c

  49. Future City? « Natural and Human Systems Blog on November 14, 2008 1:10 pm
  50. Tobias Holbrook? - is my given name, not my taken name on January 1, 2009 10:32 am

    Where’s the Airships in the distance?

    About people worrying about it becoming a police state, it would be no more of one than any city is nowadays.

    Hmmm… why not just have a cylinder maybe 100m tall, with ‘houses’ on rings around it and a garden at the bottom? Each ‘ring’ could be 2.5m tall, and have either houses, shops, or whatever on them. Make it say 20-25m wide (62.8-78.5 circumference) and make them villages. With somewhere for airships at the top, of course.

  51. Shock & Loss in a Dangerous Time « da kraziest sekuritie kamz on February 5, 2009 11:30 am

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  52. Weekly Linkage 01-26-2007 - Ylliks on February 14, 2009 6:32 am

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Hi! I am a self-confessed geek with an insatiable appetite for gadgets and travel. Currently I own a MacBook Pro, 30GB iPod video and a big credit card balance.
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