Aug 15, 2011

Imaginary Flying Cities

Stephanie of collected a dozen inspiring flying and hovering dwellings from the architectural and science-fiction literature. My favorite, of course, is Fuller's Cloud Nine.

Buckminster Fuller’s Cloud Nine

(image via: steve dejonckheere)

Buckminster Fuller always had big ideas, including a massive floating city that would have housed 6,000 residents off the coast of Tokyo. The inventor of the geodesic dome imagined taking his spherical creations into the sky with ‘Cloud Nine’, an airborne habitat composed of free-floating or tethered spheres, each one mile in diameter and housing thousands of people. These spheres would function as hot air balloons, and residents would get back and forth with solar-powered aircraft.

Fuller's idea, of course, is passively floated on renewable streams of solar-driven heat differentials. The below is not as clear:

Migrating Floating Gardens

(image via: rael san fratello)

As green space has gone from ground level to rooftops in urban areas, at least one architect believes they’re due to go higher still. Rael San Fratello imagines ‘Migrating Floating Gardens’, trailing from large remotely controlled floating aircraft that would move around the city and even migrate seasonally to warmer locales.

The Floating House from Pixar’s ‘Up’

(image via: wired)

How many balloons would it really take to lift a house? In Pixar’s ‘Up’, a huge bunch of balloons was simply tied to the fireplace grate through the chimney. Keeping in mind that this is a fictional animated film, Wired did the calculations to determine whether balloons could really lift a house. Their conclusion: it would take 105,854 balloons, each measuring three feet in diameter, to make a 100,000 pound house buoyant.

In another post, Stephanie wrote about wandering cities such as:

Water Station

(image via: cgi society)

Another entry in the CG Society NVArt artspace competition is ‘Water Station’ by Steve Bjorck, who says of his creation: “The planet is hot and dry. The only water left is hidden deep under the dead crust. This nomadic colony tap into ancient wells scattered across the planets surface with a large, floating station similar to Earths oil and gas platforms. This well has a healthy supply of fresh water, they will be able to stay here for many months, maybe years.”

Superstar: A Mobile Chinatown

(images via: dezeen)

Chinese architecture firm MAD isn’t exactly pleased with New York’s Chinatown, calling it a sloppy, kitschy, outdated tourist trap. What could bring it up to date? Oh, maybe making it a bizarre star-shaped mobile city that can take the latest and greatest of Chinese food, inventions and culture to other cities around the world. ‘The Superstar’ is a self-sustaining city that grows its own food and recycles all of its waste so as never to be a burden on its host cities.
This one would be more interesting as a tensegrity:

Stacked City Portable Urban Shelter

(images via: import.export)

A different kind of ‘portable city’ makes it easy to create a home no matter where you go. The Stacked City camping tower by Import.Export is a long way from primitive tent camping, giving travelers an otherwise unattainable view of their surroundings and making them anything but low-profile. As Dornob points out, there are security issues to be addressed, but designs like these could be the turning point for real-life mobile dwellings that go far beyond recreational vehicles.

The website also reported extensively on floating cities here, here and here. A shame Michael Burt's floating Olympic city was not reviewed by them" just published, it is a serious proposal for floating stadia to enable poorer countries to host the Olympics.