The Superstar is a Star-Shaped Self-Sustaining City of the Future

by , 10/30/08

SuperStar, Self-sustaining city, Contemporary Chinatown, MAD Architects, future city, sustainable architecture, concept city

The city of tomorrow takes to the skies in an incredible new concept from Beijing-based MAD Architects. Although its spires may look menacing, the aptly named Superstar is a completely self-sustaining city that is capable of producing all of its own power and food while recycling all of its waste. Conceived as a future-forward update to the contemporary Chinatown, the Superstar will travel the globe, supplying its host cities with energy, commerce, and cultural activities.

SuperStar, Self-sustaining city, Contemporary Chinatown, MAD Architects

Looking suspiciously like a Cylon Base Star from Battlestar Galactica, the utopian Superstar is “a fusion of technology and nature, future and humanity”. MAD Architects conceived of the sparkling modern superstructure as an update to the faded facades and cluttered kitsch of Chinatowns around the globe:

“Superstar: A Mobile China Town is MAD’s response to the redundant and increasingly out-of-date nature of the contemporary Chinatown. Rather than a sloppy patchwork of poor construction and nostalgia, the superstar is a fully integrated, coherent, and above all modern upgrade of the 20th century Chinatown model.”

As a completely self-sustaining city, the Superstar will be capable of housing 15,000 people. It will grow its own food, recycle all of its waste, and produce its own power, even feeding some energy back into its host city’s grid.

The Superstar will also be capable of traveling around the globe, sharing Chinese culture with the cities in which it docks. Inside, one can experience fine Chinese cuisine, purchase quality Chinese goods, and participate in cultural events and celebrations. It will also offer health resorts, sports facilities, drinking-water lakes, and even a digital cemetery to remember those who have passed. According to MAD’s website, the first destination of the super star will be on the outskirts of Rome, where it will provide “an unexpected, ever-changing future imbedded in the Eternal Past”.

While it is questionable whether or not the full-scale Superstar will ever go on tour, visitors and residences in and around Venice are invited to visit a model at the 11th Annual Venice Bienalle.


+ Venice Bienalle

Via: Dezeen

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  1. Revenoir April 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    We have the meta-material to make it in carbon nanotubes (graphene). Super strong, super light weight. Just finding the power source to keep it afloat might be problematic. Series of nuclear power cells? Would love to see the proposed spec on it.

  2. rtzfrtz1 January 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Okay, sure, it looks implausible, but why all the ire? If someone wants to think way outside the box and be visionary, why is there cause for offense?

    And by the way, does anyone remember that the Eiffel Tower was considered an atrocity, as was the pyramid in front of the Louvre and the Seattle Space Needle. Falling Water was said to be impossible to build and it’s the most famous piece of residential architecture in the world. I’m not saying that this giant star will even be built. I’m just saying…lighten up.

  3. lazyreader January 31, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I assume Lex Luthor designed this. Where he stole the crystal technology from the Fortress of Solitude and infused it with kryptonite to grow his own continent.

  4. pieter January 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    First we must build the gigantic Xmas tree for it to sit on top of, otherwise it will look out of place. Besides, it has all those sharp points and it will put out someone’s eye. It’s UGLY… There is no point discussing whether it could be built when clear it should not be built. If aliens come and visit we will be the laughing stock of the whole galaxy. The designer must be shot lest he or she ever designs anything again. Seriously folks…. it is ugly, stupid, pointy, silly and way too Xmassy. DESTROY!!!!

  5. Eric January 28, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I’d place this is the category of non-existent future. Have designers not learned that there is a different between science fiction and reality? The star looks amazing but completely unnatural (then again, so do islands shaped like a palm tree).

  6. jekonigs January 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    So… was an engineer involved in this design process? How about a builder? Or a construction manager? Or a developer? How sustainable is it really if it can’t be built because it would cost so much to build no one would fund it? It really just wasted time these visionary architects could have been working on real world projects that actually can make a difference. And all glass? really? no matter how efficient that glass is… its still not as efficient as a wall that can be insulated. And while daylight is good, there is such a thing as too much daylight…. and this certainly crossed that line without looking back!

  7. adreanna103 September 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    no way that imposable you cont do that your just geting evryones hopes up

  8. jerl June 1, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    i dont like it haha sure it is creative and sustainable, but this thing i think is really not feasable. Regarding the fact that it has to land on some areas where there are already developments, its not a pretty site for me. Maybe i dont like it because it is pointed.

  9. pieter February 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    LOL…. Yeah right.
    Apart from a few chuckles I am rendered speechless. I can’t comment……. LOL….

  10. Lynad November 2, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I agree that this project is certainly creative and awe-inspiring, and it is valuable for that sole reson. However it simply is not practical. Ignoring any questions i might have about movement or anything else, it is not a good sustainable project. Agreed, it may be sustainable, but the construction would not. The huge amounts of material and work involved in crerating it would be, no doubt, not only entirely economically unfeasable but also ecologically unsound (as with the construction of any large and complex structure). When it comes to designing eco-friendly architecture, in general it is best to go for simple and cheap (after all, that IS, essentially, the whole point).
    Im not saying it couldn’t be built. Maybe someday in the future, if mankind can live in peace in a war and violence-free society…
    Which is unlikely, not to say impossible. But hey, we can all dream…

    PS: kanenas… i would appreciate it if you could tell me what your claim of existing anti-gravity propulsion is based on. As far as i know, although many models which reproduce the effects of anti-gravity exist, there is no “true” anti-gravity technology out there.

  11. kanenas October 30, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    has any1 heard of anti-graviry propulsion? u should have it exists.. and though it wouldnt work at 40000 feet it could at a low altitude.. i would think that thing would run with a couple of nuclear reactors plus whatever solar energy it will produce.. so it will be a nuclear disaster waiting to happen besides that constant eye twitch it should produce to those that would it added at any juncture of their panoramic vision. Ow and the cylon spaceship is so so so much prettier then that.. People go to china town for good noodles and beijing duck not to give back their super-power or get the latest goss from planet kryptn.. i mean seriously..

  12. etherworkshop September 24, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Ludicrous physically and even more ridiculously described. The feasability of this idea does not merrit comment,
    however the description is something that is here and now and… who wrote this? Maybe it is a poor translation, but wow.
    \”first destination of the super star will be on the outskirts of Rome, where it will provide “an unexpected, ever-changing future imbedded in the Eternal Past.\”\”-What? Either this is written by an 8 year old given an assignment for a Montessori philosophy class, or someone is in need of some fresh air.

  13. Dormammu El-Salami September 23, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    In the distant future maybe not this design but ,there will be may mind-boggeling cities in the sky .And they will look unimaginable aswell as a lot of evrything else ,how about enormous hovering cargo moth vessels ,
    different climate major politcal changes and advances in medica and gene science.
    this shit is for real my friends.,

    -Dormammu El Salami-
    Third Priest Of The Order Of The Azarus Ancients –

  14. guiome September 22, 2008 at 9:08 am

    This building looks like the AIDS virus… it hurts the earth with its picks. It is for Aliens, not for terrians.
    Just worthless !

  15. ArchiPaul September 20, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Principles of physics seem to be tossed out the window,
    An update to Chinatown is approptiate albeit but what’s that power cord look like that plugs this thing in?
    Call me “old school,” but I still prefer the timeless apses of Arcosanti over this, when it comes to form-of-density, but then – I still like stone, wood, glass, metals. . . .

  16. sethe September 19, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    it’s really amazing how short-sighted and boring most of you seem to be. this is obviously a diagram of a beautiful concept, and regardless of whether or not something like this ever comes into being in this physical form or another, it qualifies as visionary. dreamers past and present have given us amazing weapons of progress both cultural and technological to create a better future for ourselves. perhaps this is not always with the detail of a fully-fledged blueprint, but planting an ideological seed is infinitely more valuable than sitting on the sidelines and nay-saying due to the ignorant inability to see beyond infantile immediate needs.

    true masters of science, design, and planning would view the reification of such an ideal as a challenge to be met with boundary-breaking disection, analyzation, and implementation. true small-minded shit-heads, however, would prefer to ridicule the creative thinking and desire for a better (or at least more interesting) future rather than offer praise or submit their own alternative solution as riposte.

  17. phatphatty September 19, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    While I tend to gravitate towards conceptual architecture like this, I have a lot of problems with this design. The problem that I have is not with the utter infeasability of the project, but rather that it is an idea that has already been done 30+ years ago. This design basically copied the ideas of Archigram\’s Walking City and Super Studios Continuous Monument. There is nothing wrong with using a previous project as a precedent. I actually used the Continuous Monument as a precedent for a project I did in school, but the project went beyond the ideas of what super studio had chosen. It seems like this project just took the narrative for the Walking City and gave it new renderings, which are not as cool as Archigram\’s original design.

  18. numb766856 September 19, 2008 at 10:08 am

    one spike of super star will be the food supply . containing millions of rats , rats eatting rats and multiplying the perfect reproducting food supply . at each stop they will gladly take all stray dogs and cats etc

  19. Androo September 19, 2008 at 10:06 am

    And plasticanimalz, I have yet to find an actually intelligent comment about why architecturally or technologically this SHOULD be in the future.

    Anything’s possible, but where’s the merit? In fact, your flying car metaphor is an absolute perfect parallel. That was an idea of the future born of the 50s when the absolute adulation of technology and progress was king – we have seen, since then, that our faith in that kind of ‘progress’ was misplaced. Why does anyone need a flying car? Why should anyone WANT a flying car, when we can instead develop transit alternatives and compact, walkable, livable communities?

    Big ideas are fun, but it’s silly to look at this as anything but an inspiration in the same way as one would look at Star Trek. Yes, zero energy, zero waste, closed-loops etc… are all good ideas – but I don’t need a cartoony rendering to tell me that. Big thinking can be its most inspiring when there’s an element of pragmatism, when you can actually envision it happening.

  20. plasticanimalz September 18, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    This is awesome. And honestly, I’m surprised at all of the negativity posted on this site. This is exactly “why” they’re looking to create something like this to escape all the negativity of people who are clearly jaded, bitter, and have no hope for a positive future. What if the Wright brothers listened to you people? We wouldn’t have planes. And I have yet to find an actually intelligent comment about why architecturally or technologically this can’t be in the future. Do any of you actually watch scientific programming, read the news, know anything about architecture, green technology, etc? Major companies have already created flying cars that work that aren’t anything like jet airplanes or regular technology, and you are trying to tell me this can’t work? Has the Bush administration really jaded you so much that you all see nothing but the future of “Soilent Green?” Pathetic.

  21. akria2040 September 17, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Este sin duda es un de los proyectos mas osados que e visto en mi vida… es mas increíble que el LHC la verdad, no me justan que gastan tanto millones de dólares en esto aviando tanta gente que se muere de hambre, pero bueno el ser humano es ambicioso en todos los sentidos que lo podemos imaginar…..
    hay muchas preguntas y miedos en el proyecto como por EJ. como se estaviliza, como se transporta, y mas inportante si esta micro ciudad flota, que seguridad hay que no se caiga, saven cuanta personas van a morir la ciudad se estrella por ej……

  22. Avarana September 17, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    From the makers of Jacks!

  23. tino September 16, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    like a circus? =)

    it looks impractical maybe. if its made solely for a living space… but if you think of it as a solar conductor, movable by a large helicopter and an eye catcher i think its fits the design. And it supposed to be fun.

  24. griz1978 September 16, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Why do people get paid to develop something as ridiculous as this? This is the most unpractical design I’ve ever seen. I won’t even mention how out of scale this is to the surrounding areas… looks like a huge piece from my old jumping jacks game……Honey I blew up the Toys.

  25. Kayser September 16, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Seems like a lot of people are bashing. This is of course a concept design, and I think it fits quite well with the Biennale’s theme this year, which happens to be “Out There: Architecture Beyond building.” I think we all know how this is impossible, but give them some credit. 😛

  26. Steve N. Lee September 16, 2008 at 2:28 am

    While I usually applaud every effort to green our environment, Sony is joking with this \’camera\’, isn\’t it?

    15 seconds of spinning to charge for each photo; no viewfinder; no screen; no flash (?)… As a toy, a curiosity, it might have some value, but as a \’real\’ camera? It won\’\’t even work as a gadget for kids as, without a screen, I can\’t see anyone being impressed with it.

    Producing green products is always commendable, but those products have to be functional. This thing isn\’t. I dread to think of the resources used in developing it. Now that is waste!

    Sorry,. I NEVER advocate waste, but I\’ll be sticking to my planet-killing, battery powered camera.

    If this is the best our scientists can come up with to help us save the world, then God help us.
    Steve N. Lee
    author of eco-blog
    and suspense thriller \’What if…?\’

  27. Ransack September 16, 2008 at 1:05 am

    I think its fantastic that the Chinese are interested in sustainable cities, recycling waste, and all that great green technology.

  28. supersoyboy September 15, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    i prefer good old chinatown. imagine trying to get to the ends of each point in the star. what a hassle.

  29. joannaward September 15, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    It looks like something out of a bad episode of Doctor Who that eventually gets blown up because the Doctor and his Companion feed it a grilled cheese sandwich. Where is the practicality? It doesn’t even look that cool…

  30. okirun September 15, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    besides the fact that it’s a gigantic f*cking star and apparently somehow mobile (does it walk..?) how is this thing so amazing? Not that it wouldn’t be really cool to wake up and see this outside my window in Seattle, but…

  31. Diego Cezar Binow September 15, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Nossa que legual adorei! eu quero morar mun lugar desses! :)

  32. boydrewboy September 15, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I’m unclear as to how this city plans on moving… I see no jets or anything remotely resembling a propulsion system. Is there any security while this thing is floating around? It just takes one country to get upset and attack and not only does Chinatown plummet, but it kills god-knows-how-many people below

  33. GMACD September 15, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Looks like someone has seen Superman Returns too many times. If these monstrosities of the future go ahead, it will be nothing more than an upper class barbaric paradise for the super rich 1% and an eyesore from hell for the remaining 98% slave worker class.

  34. stanchfi September 15, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    I don’t consider a couple pretty drawings anything like an architectural plan.


  35. RappaJijnx September 15, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    NIce! Hopefully it WONT involve Dictator Bush or his REgime!


  36. BrianPMucha September 15, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    There is so much wrong with this from a basic physics perspective, not to mention space usage, access/egress, and appearance. Why is such a ludicrous design getting so much press?

    It can MOVE? Ok, sure. Why not say it can travel through time as well? I’d love to see it magically lift up and travel to New York, where it settles and then sinks 100 feet into the streets, crushing the subway and storm deep tunnels.

    Here is a building design looking for a 4 mile tall Christmas tree to hang from.

  37. Androo September 15, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    So…is there any reason at all for this thing to look so crazy? Or is it just so that it will cost 100x more than a simpler, more workable and efficient concept?

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