Fractal Formations: The Fascinating Future of Urban Growth

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[ By Steph in Conceptual & Futuristic & Technology. ]

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What might the patterns of urban sprawl look like if humanity were to survive another thousand years or so? Artist Tom Beddard envisions fractal formations seemingly cut right into the earth, broken up by the occasional sky-high tower or curving superstructure. The architecture in this futuristic vision entitled ‘Aurillia’ ranges from bleak industrial scenes to incredibly complex city centers, all created using a fractal formula called Mandalay.

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The London-based artist, who earned a PhD in laser physics before moving on to design and web development, used the Fractal-lab tool that he built himself to render the images. Fractals in visual form are generally characterized by obvious patterns, but with this formula, the resulting aerial views have a surprisingly organic look.

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“What I found particularly interesting was the mix of architectural forms that could be found when certain parameter combinations create structural resonances,” Beddard told The Creators Project. “The curved domes are due to the Mandlebox sphere folding effect and the towers result from the different fold scaling of individual axes.”

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We’ve seen some amazing applications of fractals and parametric designs in architecture and furniture designs, from mobile pavilions to fantasy cities, but nothing on quite this large of a scale. Check out aerial views of real-life suburban complexes and you’ll see that these patterns aren’t all that far from the patterns we’re already creating with urban development.


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Architectural Fiction: 35 Impossibly Surreal Structures

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[ By Steph in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

Fantasy Architecture Dujardin 1

Unbound by gravity, the need for structural soundness or any sense of real-world aesthetics, architecture becomes like a life form of its own, multiplying and mutating in strange and unsettling ways. These fictional architectural assemblages explore unlikely configurations that are only possible with digital art and photo manipulation.

Surreal Structures by Matthias Jung

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The architectural creations of Matthias Jung seem to inhabit a fairytale realm where gravity doesn’t apply, raising Brutalist concrete structures on tiny stilts, floating stained glass windows like balloons and untethering some from the earth altogether. Some designs, however, seem like they might actually occupy some hidden rural meadow in Europe where aging country homes are actually topped with sheep-dotted hills. Jung is a German-based graphic designer who refers to his strange photo collages as “architectural short poems.”

Fictional Architecture by Victor Enrich

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Victor Enrich’s ‘architecture gone wild‘ twists, bends and turns, splitting down the middle as if the buildings are being unzipped or seeming to disassemble before our eyes. Balconies become giant slides leading down to the street, staircases meander off into the sky and individual apartments stretch out of their building toward the sun like leaves on a plant. The Barcelona-born designer travels the world and takes photographs of cities, digitally manipulating them for results that would generally be impossible in the real world.

“Once the object is chosen, it is shot from a point easy to recognize by users, not pretending to achieve the greatest picture ever, but instead, a picture that anybody could do. The shot is the basis to produce a replica of the building by using very detailed photogrammetric techniques that end with the creation of a three-dimensional model that fits almost perfectly into the picture.”

Jim Kazanjian

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Shadowy passages and strange interiors from horror films like The Shining and the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft tinge the disorienting and disquieting work of Portland-based photographer Jim Kazanjian, who’s inspired by “our inherent anxieties about isolation and vulnerability.” Kazanjian draws on his experience as a CGI artist working on games to create these ‘hyper-collages,’ cobbling together images of buildings, sinkholes and foggy landscapes from an archive of over 30,000 photos.

“My interest in gaming stems from my fascination with architecture and its potential to generate narrative structures,” says the artist. “My time in game development has definitely informed my photographic work. I find that the immersive qualities in both mediums have a strong correlation.”

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The Future Takes Flight: 13 Forward-Thinking Airport Ideas

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Futuristic Airports Main

With their inefficient terminals and bloated footprints, today’s airports are typically ill-equipped to adapt to sharp increases in demand, scarce land availability or new flight technologies. These 13 futuristic airport designs address current and upcoming air travel challenges, from beautiful expansions currently under construction to fantastical concepts that accommodate vertical lift-off.

Airport Skyscraper

Future Airports Skyscraper

Beijing is in dire need of new airports, but also doesn’t have a lot of acreage to spare. This concept for the 2012 eVolo Skyscraper Competition solves both problems with ‘airport skyscrapers’ shaped like giant mushrooms. Not only does this free up the space below, it also effectively reduces the length of the runways since wind speed is higher 450 meters in the air than it is at sea level.

Floating Airport for London with Underwater Tunnels

Future Airports Floating London 1

Using the surface of rivers and the sea also frees up precious land, as illustrated in this futuristic airport design by architecture firm Gensler. Envisioned for the Thames River, the London Britannia consists of a series of rounded pods connected to four floating runways anchored to the sea floor. Underground tunnels would connect passengers to the city and to European rail networks.

Shenzen Airport Mimics a Manta Ray

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Taking inspiration from both the natural form of a manta ray and the more obvious shape of an airplane, the Shenzen airport extension in China is covered in thousands of hexagonal skylights across a steel and glass canopy, creating a honeycomb pattern within the undulating all-white interior.

Malpensa Airport Proposal

Future Airport Malpensa

A modular geometric roof consisting of brushed metal in three golden shades makes a big impact on the Malpensa Airport, creating a covered area that serves as an exhibition space and pedestrian walkway between the Expess Train Station and Terminal 1 of the Milan Airport.

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Cemeteries in the Sky: 7 Compact Vertical Burial Designs

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

VERTICAL BURIAL MAIN

A skyscraper filled with corpses may sound morbid, but soon, such things may become a necessity. The earth is already packed with dead housed in oversized caskets that have been designed to outlive us all – so what are we going to do with the never-ending stream of human bodies as we face life’s greatest inevitability?

Skyscraper Cemetery for Norway

Vertical Burial Norway Cemetery Skyscraper

A metal exoskeleton around a central core serves as the framework for a multi-story graveyard that looks, on each individual floor, the way any ordinary graveyard would. It’s got trees, benches and memorials. The only difference is, it’s high above ground level, and roofed by the next level of graves. Norweigian designer Martin McSherry envisions the Skyscraper Cemetery that can help solve the problem of lack of burial space in the country, with a crane permanently situated beside the structure to constantly add new floors as needed.

Memorial Necropole Ecumenica, Brazil

Vertical Burial Brazil

The world’s tallest existing cemetery is Brazil’s Memorial Necropole Ecumenica, a 32-story high rise where tombs are rented by the year and private memorial rooms go for about $105,000. Because of the hot Brazilian climate, bodies must be interred within 24 hours, so the MCE, as it’s known, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The building also contains a chapel, lagoon, peacock garden, waterfalls, an aviary full of parrots and toucans and even a small restaurant.

Tower for the Dead, Mexico City

Vertical Burial Tower for the Dead

The population of residents aged 65 and older is expected to triple in developing countries over the next four decades. That’s a big problem when it comes to burying the dead, especially in places like Mexico City where buildable area is very scarce. Creating more conventional cemeteries would mean losing valuable agricultural land and what few unspoiled green spaces are left. This proposal, Tower for the Dead, actually combines vertical necropoles with inverted skyscrapers for an 820-foot-deep subterranean complex conceived as a massive screw driving into the earth. The experience might be a little intense, as each floor has a theme based on a stage of grief.

“This project proposes an underground vertical cemetery for Mexico City – a vision that takes into consideration the overpopulation, the scarcity of land, and the psychological and sensory experience of grieving. The ‘Tower of the Dead’ allows the family members of the deceased to be reborn, after a trip to the underworld, where they just buried their loved one.”

Vertical Cemetery for Paris

Vertical Burial Cemetery for Paris

This vertical cemetery concept for land-challenged Paris would create “a symbolic tower with a rightful place within the city that the deceased so much loved,” a city that currently has so little space for graves that many remains have still not been properly buried. A skylight pours natural light into the center of the tower, down into a water pond at the base, with a spiral ramp offering a walkway to the top floor. Flexible filaments on the outside of the tower each stand for a deceased person, aiming to embody their essence as they move in the wind.

Stacked Cemeteries of New Orleans

Vertical Burial New Orleans

New Orleans is one city that already stacks its dead vertically, up to four tombs high. The reason for this is simple: the city is set well below sea level, so the water table is far too high for underground burial. Dig just a few feet down, and you’ll hit soggy sand. For a while, residents attempted it anyway, stacking heavy stones on top of the caskets to hold them down, but storms would bring them floating up to the surface. Families are typically stacked together within individual vaults. At the city’s infamous Lafayette Cemetery, human remains are even interred right in the walls that surround it.

Moshka Tower Cemetery, Mumbai

Vertical Burial Moksha Mumbai

The Moshka Tower was designed for Mumbai to free up a significant amount of ground space for the living, accommodating all four of the major cultures and religions found within the city (Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Parsi.) Facilities are available for both garden burial and cremation. A tower of silence is located on the roof for Parsis, and additional space is available for worship, prayer and meditation. The multi-layered facade is filled with vegetation to absorb heat and CO2, and new technology enables more sustainable cremation that doesn’t fill the air with pollution.

Mountain of the Dead, Egypt

Vertical Burial City of the Dead

Egypt’s Mountain of the Dead, also known as Gebel al Mawta, is a Roman-era burial site that towers above the landscape of the Siwa Oasis, looking a bit like an ant hill. Made of limestone, it was developed during the 26th Dynasty of Egypt, and served as a hiding place for soldiers during World War II. Tombs cover virtually every square inch of its base as well as its terraces and all sides of the conical portion. Many of the tombs have been raided over the centuries, and robbery continues to be a problem.

Amphitheater for the Dead: Hong Kong Hillside Cemeteries

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Look out onto the hillsides from a high-rise in Hong Kong and you’ll see something that’s highly uncommon in the west: tier after tier of graves built onto hillsides resembling ancient amphitheaters. Each grave within these cemeteries is shoehorned beside the other. It didn’t take long for this trend to die down in the city – the practice began in the ’60s, and by the ’80s, space ran out, so officials had resorted to interring bodies in nearby high-rise buildings. Hong Kong is twice as dense as New YOrk and four times as crowded as London, so it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with next.


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Architecture as Landscape: 15 Terrain-Inspired Buildings

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Mountain Architecture Main

These skyscrapers, homes and city concepts eschew typical architectural silhouettes, taking inspiration from cliffs, mountains and hills to create artificial landscape features of their own. Whether attempting to blend into the surrounding landscape or rising defiantly from the flattest of environments, they seek a sense of harmony with the natural world.

Walkable Green Roofs on a Mountainous Mixed-Use Complex

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The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is behind the vast majority of recent terrain-inspired architectural concepts, including this stunner commissioned by a Taipei developer. The mixed-use complex of housing, restaurants, cafes, pedestrian walkways, gardens and more features unparalleled vertical accessibility with walkable green roofs.

Glacier-Inspired Hungerburg Train Station by Zaha Hadid

Mountain Architecture Glacier Hadid

Architect Zaha Hadid wanted her glacier-inspired design for the Hungerburg Train Station in Innsbruck to merge with its snow-covered surroundings in winter. The structure contrasts heavy concrete with light, airy, amorphous glass overhangs that seem to float.

Chaoyang Park Plaza by MAD Architecture

Mountain Architecture Chaoyang

Gleaming like polished black basalt, the towering structures that make up MAD Architects’ Chaoyang Park Plaza explore the relationship between architecture and the natural landscape. The silhouettes are an interpretation of mountains and other shapes in classical Chinese paintings.

Wroclaw Mountain by Vicente Guallart/Guallart Architects

Mountain Architecture Wroclaw

Guallart Architects designed this mountain-inspired structure to represent Wroclaw, Poland in the race to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Berg by Jakob Tigges

Mountain Architecture The Berg

The skyline of Berlin would be dramatically altered if this wild vision by Jakob Tigges ever came to be. The Berg is a 1,000-meter mountain partially bounded by the Tempelhof Airport. While Tigges says the proposal is more symbolic than a serious idea, it’s meant to provoke thought about how architecture can be integrated with the land to provide natural habitats for wildlife and recreation space as well as places to live, shop and work.

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Surrealist Disaster-Proof Structures for Dangerous Locations

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 1

Some spots are such beautiful potential locations for a home, yet repeated natural disasters make them inhospitable for all but the strongest and most durable of dwellings. Architect Dionisio Gonzales imagines just how creative we could get in building disaster-proof structures with ‘Architecture for Resistance,’ a series of surrealist fantasies that often take their cues from natural shapes like shells.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 2

Individual collections envision architecture for a particular location. ‘Dauphin Island’ is a series of hurricane-resistant designs for the island of the same name, located just south of Mobile, Alabama. The island has been hit by one hurricane after another. Gonzales believes that sustainable architecture could stop nature’s cycle of destruction with a dramatic change in the way our houses look.

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The Dauphin Island creations are “real futuristic forts made of iron and concrete,” with shapes that call to mind sea shells, crustaceans and other marine organisms. It’s easy to imagine these structures closing up like forts to guard against high winds and flooding.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 5

Gonzales also designed bizarro-world versions of Brazil’s favelas and the shabby settlements in the hills of Busan, South Korea, making a commentary on the coexistence of the wealthy and the very poor. The designs bring visually disjointed, futuristic structures into neighborhoods that are already chaotic in an attempt to legitimize the architectural vernacular of each location.


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Surrealist Disaster-Proof Structures for Dangerous Locations

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 1

Some spots are such beautiful potential locations for a home, yet repeated natural disasters make them inhospitable for all but the strongest and most durable of dwellings. Architect Dionisio Gonzales imagines just how creative we could get in building disaster-proof structures with ‘Architecture for Resistance,’ a series of surrealist fantasies that often take their cues from natural shapes like shells.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 2

Individual collections envision architecture for a particular location. ‘Dauphin Island’ is a series of hurricane-resistant designs for the island of the same name, located just south of Mobile, Alabama. The island has been hit by one hurricane after another. Gonzales believes that sustainable architecture could stop nature’s cycle of destruction with a dramatic change in the way our houses look.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 3

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 4

The Dauphin Island creations are “real futuristic forts made of iron and concrete,” with shapes that call to mind sea shells, crustaceans and other marine organisms. It’s easy to imagine these structures closing up like forts to guard against high winds and flooding.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 5

Gonzales also designed bizarro-world versions of Brazil’s favelas and the shabby settlements in the hills of Busan, South Korea, making a commentary on the coexistence of the wealthy and the very poor. The designs bring visually disjointed, futuristic structures into neighborhoods that are already chaotic in an attempt to legitimize the architectural vernacular of each location.


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Surrealist Disaster-Proof Structures for Dangerous Locations

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 1

Some spots are such beautiful potential locations for a home, yet repeated natural disasters make them inhospitable for all but the strongest and most durable of dwellings. Architect Dionisio Gonzales imagines just how creative we could get in building disaster-proof structures with ‘Architecture for Resistance,’ a series of surrealist fantasies that often take their cues from natural shapes like shells.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 2

Individual collections envision architecture for a particular location. ‘Dauphin Island’ is a series of hurricane-resistant designs for the island of the same name, located just south of Mobile, Alabama. The island has been hit by one hurricane after another. Gonzales believes that sustainable architecture could stop nature’s cycle of destruction with a dramatic change in the way our houses look.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 3

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 4

The Dauphin Island creations are “real futuristic forts made of iron and concrete,” with shapes that call to mind sea shells, crustaceans and other marine organisms. It’s easy to imagine these structures closing up like forts to guard against high winds and flooding.

Surrealist Disaster Proof Architecture 5

Gonzales also designed bizarro-world versions of Brazil’s favelas and the shabby settlements in the hills of Busan, South Korea, making a commentary on the coexistence of the wealthy and the very poor. The designs bring visually disjointed, futuristic structures into neighborhoods that are already chaotic in an attempt to legitimize the architectural vernacular of each location.


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Erupting Stability: Tornado-Proof Suburb Inspired by Turtles

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Algorithmic Architecture: 14 Complex Math-Based Structures

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Algorithmic Architecture Main

Mathematics are more integral to architecture than ever before, and as the methods of designing structures grow more complex, so do the calculations. As these fractal and parametric designs – both built and fantasy – prove, the only limit to architecture based on mathematical algorithms are those of physics and materials, and with the advent of 3D printing and other advanced construction techniques, the world of amazingly complex architecture just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Parametric Party House

Fractal Architecture Parametric Party House

Built for Copenhagen Distortion, a summer festival that draws thousands into the city’s streets and clubs for all-night dance parties, this mobile parametric pavilion aims to “give architectural expression to this Dionysian experience.” Designed and built by experimental technology and acoustics programs from three universities, the pavilion rotates and moves like a piece of fabric despite the fact that it’s made up of 151 hinged plywood triangles finished in a reflective copper.

Intricate Fractal Fantasy Architecture by Tom Beddard

Fractal Architecture Fantasy

Tom Beddard’s fantasy architecture is far from realistic; instead, it’s an exploration of just how complex structures derived from algorithms can get and still be recognizable as potential human habitations and cities. Beddard makes some of the scrips he uses to create his works available on his website. Says the artist, “For me the creative process is writing my own software and scripts to explore the resulting output in an interactive manner. The best outcomes are often the least expected!”

L-Systems by Michael Hansmeyer

Fractal Architecure L Systems

“For centuries architects have been inspired by nature’s forms and geometries,” says Michael Hansmeyer, a designer who produced the world’s first 3D-printed room as well as some amazingly complex fractal columns. “It is only in the past decade that much of the underlying logic, mathematics and chemistry of nature’s forms has been better understood. In the late 1960′s, the biologist Aristid Lindenmayer proposed a string-rewriting algorithm that can model simplified plants and their growth processes with an astounding ease. This theory is now known as L-Systems. This project examines whether this algorithm can open up possibilities in the field of architecture.” See more L-Systems in architecture at Hansmeyer’s website.

SOM Mumbai Airport Canopy

Fractal Architecture SOM Canopy

A fractal roof canopy tops off a terminal at Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, modernizing a complex that accommodates 40 million travelers every year. The design visually references the form of vernacular Indian pavilions with thirty mushrooming columns. The kaleidoscopic canopy extends across the arrivals roadway and is embedded with small disks of colorful glass to catch the light.

Fractal-Based Sky Habitat for Singapore

Fractal Architecture Sky Habitat 1

Fractal Architecture Sky Habitat 2

This fractal design by Moshe Safdie makes the absolute most of a small land footprint with a high-density 38-story sky habitat integrating stepped balconies that democratize views and private outdoor space. Envisioned for Singapore, the tower is porous to light and air to maximize air movement in the tropical climate, and features a series of sky bridges containing parks and swimming pools.

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Forgotten Cities: 7 Unbuilt Urban Wonders of the World

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Unbuilt Urban Wonders Main

Hundreds of outlandish architectural proposals envisioned for cities around the world are rejected every year, but some are notable for their vision, controversial nature or sheer scale. Berlin, for example, would be a very different place if Hitler had won World War II, and massive cities designed by Buckminster Fuller could be floating on the seas just off American shores. These seven unbuilt urban wonders of the world range from feasible concepts and almost-built developments to utopian pipe dreams.

Welthaupstadt: Hitler’s Vision for Berlin

Unbuilt Urban Wonders Hitler's Berlin

If Hitler had won World War II, as he expected, this is what he planned to do to Berlin: turn it into ‘World Capital Germania,’ filled with monuments honoring himself and the Third Reich. The photograph depicts a miniature model Hitler created along with Albert Speer, the “first architect of the Third Reich.” Among the massive planned structures were an Olympic stadium that would remain the largest in the world today if it had ever been completed, a large open forum, and a triumphal arch based on Paris’ Arc de Triomphe (only much larger, naturally.)

The city would have been reorganized around ‘The Avenue of Splendours,’ a north-south axis serving as a parade ground with traffic diverted into an underground highway. Sections of the tunnels were started but never completed, and remain in place today.

Project X: Disney’s EPCOT as a Real City

Unbuilt Urban Wonders Project X Disney 1

Unbuilt Urban Wonders Project X 2

Walt Disney wanted EPCOT (the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) to be a real, functioning city, and had every intention of making it so when he first began working on ‘Project X,’ the basis of what would eventually become Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Walt wanted EPCOT to be the opposite of 1950s Los Angeles, where he lived and worked. Plans for the project were designed in the special ‘Florida Room’ at Disney Studios. With a thirty-story hotel as its centerpiece, EPCOT was meant to be “a utopian environment enriched in education, and in expanding technology. A perfect city with dependable public transportation, a soaring civic center covered by an all-weather dome, and model factories concealed in green belts that were readily accessible to workers housed in idyllic suburban subdivisions nearby.”

Walt made a film showcasing the new city and showed it to a few friends shortly before his death. Walt’s brother Roy was skeptical, however, and shifted the plans to create ‘Disneyland East,’ or Walt Disney World. EPCOT isn’t exactly what Walt imagined, but vestiges of his ideas can be seen in the city of Celebration, Florida, located on the Disney World property.

Dongtan, China: The First Mega Eco-City That Almost Was

Unbuilt Urban Wonders Dongtan City China

Dongtan was to be an eco-friendly utopia, the worlds first large-scale sustainable city producing 100% of its own energy from wind, solar, bio-fuel and recycled city waste. Public transit was to be powered by clean tech like hydrogen fuel cells, though the city was designed to be walkable and bikeable. Organic farms within the city limits were to produce most of residents’ food. Developers imagined that Dongtan would serve as a shining example for cities across China and the developing world.

Plans called for the city to be partially constructed by 2010, with accommodations for 10,000 residents, and fully functional for 50,000 by 2020. They began to fall apart in 2006 when Shanghai’s former mayor, the most enthusiastic supporter of the project, was arrested for property-related fraud, and reporters visiting the site found that ground hadn’t even been broken.

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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