Imagine an eco-friendly skyscraper. Now, imagine it floating in the air.
You might come up with something like the "Heaven and Earth" (天上人间 ) Floating City from designer Wei Zhao of China, whose future-forward design took an Honorable Mention in the 2012 eVolo Skyscraper Competition.
We’ve seen skyscraper designs that make use of wind turbines mounted on circular guides around the face of cylindrical towers to harvest wind; one that works, essentially, like a giant air-pollution-scrubbing wind turbine/air filter; and even a squat, honeycombed, domelike structure designed to provide office and residential space, generate solar power and harvest rainwater while preserving the landscape.
The latter two of that trio took first and second prize in last year’s eVolo Skyscraper Competition, respectively. But we love how unabashedly the Heaven and Earth Floating City seems to believe in our bright green future.
Not only does this thing support mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and animals (yes), forming "a utopia wonderland residing in the air," it does so via magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology, which works by repelling the Earth’s magnetic field. This is, essentially, a giant, floating hovercraft, controlled by large number of molecular magnets distributed along the underside of the vessel.
Apparently, the rotation of the curved bottom can generate all of the power necessary for the city, and also maintain its balance (probably pretty important, since the thing was designed to support mountains).
Sure, you say, but how’s a future hominid supposed to get back in touch with terra firma? Via small, magnetic suspension aircraft, of course, designed for use as transport links between the vessel (Heaven?) and Earth.
The designer sees the Heaven and Earth Floating City as a solution to the limited amount of landmass on the earth and its burgeoning population. By creating a kind of Earth above the Earth, this design might be thought of as the ultimate in high-density architecture.