During the Industrial Revolution, humans moved out of rural areas and into the cities, where it was easier to access factory jobs.
This influx of people caused rapid and drastic changes in the way cities were designed. As ground space was eaten up, residential and commercial skyscrapers emerged as a way for builders to maximize their real estate.
What would happen if, instead of building thousands of feet up into the sky, we developed a smarter design that allowed us to retain our connection to the natural world?
Well, that's just the question a team of French designers hoped to answer with their "Flat Tower" design, a second place winner in the 2011 eVolo skyscraper competition.
Although the construction of skyscrapers has been an architectural solution for high-density urban areas for almost a century, it has also produced some rather negative side-effects: green spaces, trees, and in some cases, sunlight have become hard to find in big cities. Skyscrapers destroy the skyline, block out the sun, and disrupt the infrastructure of a specific location.
The Flat Tower design is based on a medium-height dome structure that covers a large area while preserving its beauty and previous function. The dome is perforated with cell-like skylights that provide direct sunlight to the agricultural fields and recreational spaces located inside.
"The dome's large surface area is perfect to harvest solar energy and rainwater collection. Community recreational facilities are located at ground level while the residential and office units are in the upper cells," writes the design team.
"An automated transportation system connects all the units, which are different shapes according to their program. It is also possible to combine clusters of cells to create larger areas for different activities."