The spirit of the Zeppelin recently inspired Tiago Barros, an architect from New York who also worked in Beirut and Abu Dhabi, to propose his "Passing Cloud" concept for a New york competition.
Mr. Barros wrote in his proposal:
This project envisions a distinct approach towards moving around the United States being also a revival of the act of traveling. Why traveling at high speed? Why having the final destiny always defined? And why always departing and arriving on a tight schedule? Nowadays, everything is set and everyone is always running around. It is time to reconsider the act of traveling and start enjoying it accordingly.
The Passing Cloud is an innovative and environmentally friendly method of transportation that doesn’t require expensive steel tracks or concrete highways. It is made of a series of spherical balloons that form the shape of a cloud. Its inner stainless steel structure is covered with heavy weight tensile nylon fabric. During the journey, It moves according to prevailing winds speed and direction at the time of travel. Since it moves with the wind, no wind is ever felt during the trip, offering the passengers a full “floating sensation”.
It’s an unique journey. The feeling of floating in the atmosphere – on top of a cloud – with an open schedule and unknown final destiny. All National Ground would be potentially covered at virtually no cost and the help of the wind. The journey becomes your destiny.
The competition was thinking along other lines. In its prospectus, the Van Alen Institute requested
...visions of the architectural design community, planners, graphic designers, artists—anyone who wants to contribute to the discussion surrounding high-speed rail.... projects and narratives picturing the wide-ranging impacts that a new transportation network will have on the nation’s communities, whether urban or rural, rail-riding or car-centric, heartland or borderland. By collecting these ideas and images of a transformed America—be they specific, pragmatic, or speculative—we’ll better understand the hopes and fears of our current moment and be better equipped to decide whether and how we build this new infrastructure.
We at Law of the Air applaud Mr. Barros for his submission. While his contribution did not win, it reminds all of us to slow down, contemplate, and savor life and, as he writes, "sensation." Not sensational speed--sensation when it is most pregnant with reality, when we are calm, present, and floating in the air.
The competition: http://www.vanalen.org/projects/competitions/LifeAtTheSpeedOfRail
About Tiago Barros: http://cargocollective.com/tiagobarros/#2122936/Tiago-Barros
Passing Cloud website: http://cargocollective.com/tiagobarros#1993960/Passing-Cloud