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: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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
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.