Passing Cloud is, in fact, not a cloud at all. It is a series of heavy duty balloons held together in the shape of a cloud, reminiscent of the old Zeppelins. The balloons are surrounded by a stainless steel structure covered in tensile nylon fabric. The fabric is incredibly strong and flexible, moving with the wind and capturing the biggest gusts to power movement and protect passengers from blowing away.
Those who are looking to ride the Passing Cloud better not have a schedule in mind. The idea of this mode of transportation is focused on the journey and experience of floating along the sky like a cloud. Passengers board the structure by ladder and simply sit upon the surface for the entirety of the ride. There is no destination, no schedule, no speed to adhere by. The wind determines both where the cloud goes and exactly how fast.
One thing that is for certain, is that the Passing Cloud is incredibly easy on the environment. It emits no exhaust, produces no waste, and uses very little energy to function. By simply floating through the air, the vehicle becomes a part of nature and its courses.
This design is certainly an eye catcher, but it was even more surprising to its initial viewers. Tiago Barros submitted the Passing Cloud plan to the Van Alen Institute and the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York for their international “Life at the Speed of Rail” competition. Expecting to see only designs of high speed rail networks, this floating oasis was a jaw dropper. Though the design did not win the competition, it must have at least been a breath of fresh air.