(In collaboration with Danny Travis)
As overpopulated cities become an increasing concern, new solutions will be sought to alleviate overcrowding. One of these solutions, albeit not currently practical, is to inhabit outer space. In recent years, we have seen initiatives taken to bring everyday civilians closer to the final frontier, such as Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America. This proposal, Infinity, is a look at where the world may be in terms of realizing this lofty solution, nearing the 22nd century.
Along with overpopulation, people are paying more attention to the environmental repercussions of their decisions. If travel to and from space were to become an everyday activity, an alternative to rocket fuel must be found. Magnetic levitation (maglev) technology is already being tested an implemented with trains for mass transit systems. Infinity fully utilizes this technology, with both a major and minor maglev transit system servicing the southwestern United States, and its own local structure, respectively.
However, maglev technology could also be used elsewhere. The project entertains the idea of maglev technology being used as the primary means of propelling satellites, and pods carrying people, into space via launch tubes. The projectile travels in a large loop, ten miles in diameter or larger, to gain speed without significant lateral G forces. After reaching the necessary speed, the projectile changes course onto the ring’s launch track, travels up the mountain, through the heart of Infinity’s structure, and finally out the end of the launch tube. Varying trajectories and loop diameters are used depending on the G force tolerance of the projectile’s cargo.
Located near Las Cruces, New Mexico, Infinity is built in homage to Spaceport America, the pioneer of civilian space travel. Also, the lack of cloud cover typical to the region makes it an ideal location for launching, as well as installing PV cells. The mega structure is covered with numerous “drape” attachments, which provide shade as well as places to attach PV panels. Additionally, each launch tube is built with a skin of corrugated PV panels. The corrugations create a greater surface area, improving the solar energy production of the system. Within each launch tube are wind turbines activated by the displaced air of traveling projectiles. In this way the energy consumption of Infinity is significantly reduced, and does not contribute to the carbon footprint as a typical city would.
Beyond systems integration, the project develops a new skyscraper typology. A fusion of architecture, urbanism, and infrastructure, it is hard to classify the project as either a building or a city. From afar, it clearly appears to be a building, but from within it is most certainly a city. Contained within its boundaries exists a multitude of shops, restaurants, nightlife, living, working, and even public transportation, all elements of a metropolitan city. Infinity is constantly under construction, expanding, evolving, as a city would, yet it will always be an object (figure) in the desert (ground).
Furthermore, the physical structure itself is paradoxical. It has a heavy influence on the overall form, yet it creates a 3-dimensional field upon which individual elements are allowed to proliferate and interact, taking a form of their own. It is also infrastructural, housing passenger elevators as well as utilities, and is the base upon which the “drapes” attach.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Las Cruces, NM, US