While several of the finalists in our ReBurbia design competition tended towards the surreal, a few futuristic entries took an approach that was downright dystopian. In Radial Erect-Urbia Michael Hughes and Damon Wake envision a future where the suburbs are besieged by 3,000 foot-tall mobile crane towers. Once the massive mechanizations have toddled into place they drill deep into the earth’s crust and unfurl their tripod legs out in a 2,000 foot radius, at which point they proceed to rip nearby homes from their plots and stack them into vertical towers!
While we don’t expect to see massive mechanical bacteriophages invading the suburbs anytime soon, Hughes and Wake’s Radial Erect-Urbia does offer a striking idea for re-organizing suburbia’s inefficient sprawl into a more vertically dense form. Each tower is composed of 60 floors which are populated with houses, big box stores, and strip malls that have been literally plucked from the earth.
Once the towers have been anchored in place they proceed to extract geothermal energy and tap groundwater to sustain their reconfigured communities. Meanwhile their robotic crane legs proceed to till and cultivate the land around them, providing the pop-up community with a source of food. Eventually each tower will connect to other nearby towers via sky bridges, supporting public transit networks and allowing the flow of people of goods.
Each steampunk-esque moving castle is capable of housing 5,000 inhabitants in 1,200 single family homes, and offers 2.5 million square feet of public space. According to Hughes and Wake, “By radically retrofitting suburbs, the old methodology of horizontal sprawl is supplanted with a scheme of vertical-core sprawl freeing the suburbanite from the demands of automotive travel while maintaining the spatial desire for individual homes and returning the land to mother nature.”