The rise of the drones may be on the horizon. As the flying machines are increasingly tapped for their uses as surveillance cameras or delivery bots, it’s clear that regulation and infrastructure will need to be put in place if they become part of the urban fabric. To that end, Avoid Obvious Architects and Tetra Architects & Planners designed the first drone highway as part of a futuristic and utopian vision for Bao’an, Shenzhen. The project was created as part of an invited competition to redesign the city’s highway G107 alongside competitors such as OMA.
Located in the heart of the Pearl River Delta, Bao’an is a quickly modernizing area eager to transform from a manufacturing hub to a sustainable and tech-oriented center. As part of this vision, the city asked architects to redevelop its 30-kilometer-long, 12-lane G107 highway, a massive piece of infrastructure longer than the length of New York City’s Manhattan island. Avoid Obvious and Tetra Architects & Planners responded by splitting the G107 into two elevated four-lane enclosures surrounded by green space and topped with landscaped parks.
Multi-functionality is at the heart of this new green spine. Not only would cars and pedestrians use it, but the redesigned G107 would also be used as a drone highway for flying bots making deliveries. The subway line would run underneath the highway. “The multi-layered design will not only create a smooth transit experience, but it will also carry smart technology to manage water and air pollution,” write the architects. “The new G107 will no longer be a deterrent to development, but a valuable asset for Bao’an. Our smart design will drastically reduce the city’s carbon footprint. The ultimate goal is to make Bao’an a smart city that can be carbon neutral by 2045.”