While sipping my first beer of 2016, I was hit by a devastating realisation: the future is on its way, and I don’t know what we’re doing about it. Every year the floods and storms keep hitting, and how much is climate change agreement COP21 really going to amount to?
Fortunately, these 5 architects and their 5 visions are showing us how to tackle the problems of the future before it’s too late.
Aequorea – Vincent Callebaut
Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut recently dropped his ambitious vision on the world; Aequorea is his architectural concept for a floating underwater city which is 3D printed from algae and garbage. Introducing the design with a fictional letter from the year 2065, Callebaut accuses the today’s world of taking the land and the ocean for granted.
Cities like Aequorea would provide a solution to this, making use of the plastic in the Pacific trash vortex and using the CO2 in the atmosphere to expand the same way sea shells do.
In this December month of 2065, it’s still hard for me to believe how carelessly the People of the Land mortgaged the fate of future generations.
Callebaut’s vision directly addresses the challenges of our future, offering a way architecture can adapt to rising sea levels and aid in the clean-up of pollution. These structures may seem a bit too ambitious or sci-fi, but perhaps one day the sea will be filled with floating cities like these, forging a more respectful relationship with nature.
Lowline – James Ramsey
When you think of underground spaces, you think of somewhere dark, damp and depressing, right? The NYC-based Lowline project is out to change that perception. Created by James Ramsey, Lowline is the intended transformation of an abandoned tram station into a green underground park space, complete with trees!
Technology developed by Ramsey shows solar collectors above ground channelling sunlight through fibre optic cable to domes below, providing all the light needed for plants to grow right in the heart of the concrete jungle. Could this become the blueprint for green spaces in overly-built-up cities around the world?
Solar Tulips – AORA Solar
These Solar Tulips aren’t just a fantasy, they’re a reality. Conceived by AORA Solar, they provide power to places in Israel, China, Spain and now Ethiopia. Running on a mix of solar energy and biogas (when the sun isn’t available), these art installation-esque structures produce enough electricity to power 60 – 80 homes, 24 hours a day. To top it off, they also produce no carbon emissions.
AORA’s Solar Tulips join a host of other projects in the continent working to harness power from the Sun. Could Africa emerge as a breakout leader in renewable energy, its future cities surrounded by gardens of these things?
Electric Highways – Highways England
We all remember Solar Roadways, the ill-fated Kickstarter that got everybody excited until they realised how infeasible the project would be. However, Highways England are looking to change the roads in a far more do-able way, with the inclusion of charging lanes on motorways.
Using technology buried underneath the road itself, electric cars will be able to draw power as they drive; now electric car owners need not be confined to a 5 mile radius around their home or spend hours charging by the side of the road. Electric highways make emissionless electric cars like the Tesla a real option instead of an impractical afterthought, and could soon become the norm.
Jamming Bodies – Lucy McRae and Skylar Tibbits
Most people don’t want to imagine a future where all our furniture and stuff are replaced by an inflatable white membrane able to swallow us whole. However, McRae and Tibbits imagine exactly that; filmed for the Storefront gallery, this video shows the room moulding to fit around a human being like memory foam on steroids.
Can anybody see themselves living in a weird, featureless, inflatable womb, or a future of buildings disgorging their inhabitants onto the streets? Perhaps not on Earth, but in space where (ironically) space is at a premium, the tech behind Jamming Bodies could be a game changer. See you in orbit.