Two miles high, one mile wide, and housing a million people

Cover of The World Inside In Robert Silverberg’s 1971 novel The World Inside (a book I remember fondly for having contributed a great deal to my early sex education), the bulk of the 75 billion people on a future Earth live inside Urban Monads, or Urbmons, each of which is three kilometres tall and houses 800,000 people. (Via io9.)

Architect Eugene Tsui has a proposal on his website for something similar: the two-mile high “Ultima” Tower, intended to be home to a million people:

There are 120 levels to the structure with great heights at each level. The scale of this stucture is such that the entire central district of Beijing could fit into its base. One must not think in terms of floors but, instead, imagine entire landscaped neighborhood districts with “skies” that are 30 to 50 meters high. Lakes, streams, rivers, hills and ravines comprise the soil landscape on which residential, office, commercial, retail and entertainment buildings can be built…the structure itself acts like a living organism with its wind and atmospheric energy conversion systems, photovoltaic exterior sheathing, and opening/closing cowl-vent windows that allow natural air into the interior without mechanical intervention….ecological efficiency is a rule and all areas of the structure feature resource conserving technolgy such as recycled building materials, compost toilets, nature-based water cleansing systems for all buildings, plentiful amounts of forrest, plant life and water-based ecosystems.

Even the setting would be beautiful:

The tower is surrounded on all sides by a lake. Sandy beaches, stone cliffs, water inlets, grass, trees and rocky islands create a beautiful and majestic setting…

Could such a thing ever be built? Well, Tsui’s concept dates back to 1991, and nobody’s breaking ground for it yet, or for similar projects like Tokyo’s SkyCity. (The projected $150 billion price tag might have something to do with that.) But the problems of urban sprawl and overpopulation aren’t going away, and structures like this could be part of the solution.

And to me, at least, it actually sounds like a pretty cool place to live…unlike Silverberg’s rather nightmarish (plentiful–mandatory, in fact–sex notwithstanding) Urbmons.

(Image: Amazon.)

[tags]cities, urban sprawl, overpopulation, architecture, skyscrapers[/tags]

6 thoughts on “Two miles high, one mile wide, and housing a million people”

  1. Two words: Paolo Soleri. [] Arcologies were his thing, giant buildings the size of small mountains that could house the population of entire counties, much less cities. Potentially.

  2. High-rises? Nah, never catch on.

    From Tsui’s site:
    “densely populated”. Strike 1.

    Air pressure above 6000 ft? He doesn’t say that it’s enclosed (rather, “… open garden areas on each floor… all floors have specially designed windows with aerodynamic wind cowls, so that windows can be opened without having to resist tremendous wind forces… All windows in the building are operable so there is no pressurized, forced-air system used internally”)

    Denver is OK, but not too many people live and work above 7000 ft. Strike 2.

    I hear that La Paz is at 11 kft – population over a million, so I have to assume that you get used to it.

    On the other hand, I’d like to see the tower built.

  3. “Air pressure above 6000 ft? He doesn’t say that it’s enclosed”

    I’ve been to the top of Pike’s Peak (or Pikes Peak, originally El Capitan); 14,115′. Named after Zebulon Pike, an explorer.
    I had no problem there. People worked there all the time in the tourist center and in the Army’s research facility. Anyone’s car will go up the mountain. The thin air contains only 60% of the oxygen available at sea level. It’s chilly, rarely above 40 deg F in the summer.
    People spend their entire lives up in the Andes, where they are inhabited to well above 10,000′. There’s even a small lake at 20,960′ on Ojos de Salado (22,608′). A Jeep was driven to 21,942′. People have ascended to the top of Everest (Sagarmatha or Qomolangma)(29,035′) without oxygen. So it’s not unreasonable to have people living in unpressurized buildings 9800+ ft. tall (in addition to the elevation of the ground where they sit).

Comments are closed.