We’ve seen a whole slew of gigantic, volcano shaped, city-in-a-building towers, each promising to be the largest building in the world. First it was the wacky X-Seed design for Tokyo, and then even Norman Foster got into the game with his proposal for the massive ‘Crystal Island’ development in Moscow. Well now, architect Eugene Tsui is taking the gigantic volcano tower concept to a whole new eco level, by taking design inspiration from the natural world. His new design for the Ultima Tower – a 2-mile high Mt Doom-esque structure – borrows design principles from trees and other living ystem to reduce its energy footprint. We are always intrigued by architecture that uses biomimicry – the borrowing of principles from nature’s designs – and Tsui’s concept for this towering, ultra-dense urban development has certainly captured our attention with its thought-provoking design.
Population growth rates and rural-urban migration are creating a trend of chaotic urbanization that brings environmental, economic and social challenges. Within the next 7 years, 22 megacities across the globe are expected to have populations that exceed 10 million people, according to the UN. The Ultima Tower is an innovative green design concept proposed to resourcefully use earth’s surface and allow sustainable distribution of resources within a dense urban setting.
Designed to withstand natural calamities, Ultima Tower is highly stable and aerodynamic. Rather than spreading horizontally the structure rises vertically from a base with a 7,000 foot diameter – inspired in part by the termite’s nest structures of Africa, the highest structure created by any living organism.
Surrounded on all sides by a lake, the building would use building integrated photo-voltaic solar cells to meet most of the electrical energy requirements. The tower would also use Atmospheric Energy Conversion to exploit the differences in atmospheric pressure at the bottom and top of the tower and convert this differential into electrical power. Wind turbine energy would also be used to power the tower.
Taking a cue from the principles of transpiration and cohesion (Joly-Dixon’s cohesion-tension theory) as used by the tree to move water from roots to aerial parts, the designers are working on a method of carrying water from the bottom of the tower to the top utilizing water potential difference between the two points.
Other significant features of the design include bodies of water placed at 12 separate levels, 144 elevators at the periphery of the building, use of vertical propulsion through compressed air, specially designed windows with aerodynamic wind cowls, reflecting mirrors to bring direct sunlight into the building, open garden balconies, electric cars run by propane and hydrogen gas, complete absence of internal combustion engines or toxic pollutants. The whole building is envisioned by Tsui as a large ecosystem teeming with structures that are ‘living and breathing’.
+ Ultima Tower