Gallery: MILES HIGH ULTIMA TOWER: Vertical Eco City Works Like a Tree

 

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

+ Tsui Design & Research

+ Eugene Tsui

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22 Comments

  1. Laurene February 10, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Appreciate this post. Will try it out.

  2. Trena February 8, 2013 at 5:40 am

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing this information.

  3. bugmenot March 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    This is not originally his concept. Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovic had a concept of “Babylon tower”.

    http://eng.digital.nb.rs/document/II-150080-007

  4. Rhiade March 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    lol is a high tower really, wow ‘-’

  5. not a jew but a real human January 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    you must try to eliminate the Mountains so peoples ئill not be able to find the energy

  6. Swm January 5, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Face it, this will never ever be built. Be realistic people!

  7. lance 4567 September 11, 2009 at 8:40 am

    that tower was so tall 11,000 m

  8. mady505 April 26, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    hello every 1

    it’s mohamed
    civil engineer over here

    well …. I’m just wondering what kind of foundation will be used to support this tower

    burj dubai is now over 800 meters and it’s supported on 192 pile with 50 meter depth underground

    so… how deep will be this ower foundation

    :)

    keep guessing

  9. iAin April 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Yes looks very lovely and oh so green! But i believe were all missing the point here and that is to build such large structures and the resources needed to do so is far from green. And is how we got to this state of affairs in the first place.I wonder if this is Eco-or Ego building.

  10. XERXES August 26, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    It is impressive but nothing compared to the mile-high tower in Saudi Arabia…

  11. XERXES August 26, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    This building is impressive (and taller)…but nothing compared to the mile-high tower being built in saudi arabia…nothing.

  12. Eric Hunting May 11, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    The \’problems\’ of carbon, renewable energy use, and sustainability are systemic. They are products of the physical structure of our civilization and the only comprehensive solution to them is to alter that physical structure in a more appropriate way. The structure of civilization has historically tended to be keyed to the dominant sources of energy at any period in history and the logistics associated with its use and transportation. In the past civilization was greatly confined in physical density by the limits on transportation of key forms of energy, with waterways being the dominant means of bulk transit and the only portable energy forms being bulky and low in energy density. We have today a very physically dispersed civilization because our dominant fossil fuel forms of energy have featured very high energy density affording great energy portability, both in terms of distance from energy sources and potential dispersion of transit routes by virtue of reduced minimum scales of vehicles. We often complain about contemporary communities being designed around the automobile. However, it\’s more correct to say they are designed around gasoline because the automobile as it exists and functions now is the product of the energy characteristics of gasoline. Electric and gasoline cars evolved in parallel for most of their early history. But the growth market for automobiles was initially in the countryside, where portable energy was critical, public transportation non-existent, and the reach of urban power grids long delayed.

    What does this have to do with mile high megacity towers? Well, imagine what the world would be like if we had never been able to make fractional distillation of crude oil cost-effective. No gasoline and so no long-range automobiles. So while oil might still have become a dominant energy source, it would not be used much outside the context of electricity production because it would be too filthy to burn in small vehicles and would normally only be transported around the world in bulk along few (rail and ship) transit routes. Civilization\’s structure would be confined to nodes along the bulk fossil fuel transport network and its local dispersion limited by the distribution of electric power. Electric cars and electric powered mass transit would be the norm by default. The end result? A civilization that looks like a cross between the Steam Age and the Space Age. A world that looks very much like the world depicted in this Eugene Tsui design.

    But what does an imaginary world without gasoline have to do with this? Well, isn\’t that what we aspire to now? You see, there has never really been a technical \’problem\’ with renewable energy. It has always worked in some degree. It just operated under very different logistical limitations compared to fossil fuels -logistics very similar to that of Steam Age energy sources like coal and unrefined oil. We invented the \’problem\’ of renewable energy by demanding that it conform to the logistics of a very different form of energy -gasoline- rather than the more logical tactic of adapting our civilization\’s physical structure to suit its natural logistics -because it\’s sort of difficult for civilization to physically contract given the way property markets work. Governments don\’t reign-in urban property values so there\’s little incentive for contraction. But if you can design a new form of city that challenges the suburban ideas of standard of living and reduce property values by going upward instead of outward it becomes a more viable prospect. THIS is the real message of Tsui\’s design -as well as the arcologies of Paulo Soleri. What they have been trying to tell us for a long time is that we have to physically change how and where we live to be able to live -and live well- in the context of the logistics imposed by sustainability. To sell sustainability on a model of progress and improved standard of living rather than sacrifice, as has been environmentalism\’s tradition for a long time. Levittown is still Levittown even if it\’s made out of straw bale and has solar panels on the roofs. And the best way to show your love for nature is to leave it alone. This is what these designs -in a rather exaggerated way- are trying to say.

    Of course, the biggest issue with Tsui\’s designs are that they tend to be based on speculative forms of organic construction we don\’t know how to actually do today. Ferro-cement and fiberglass are still the predominate mediums for free-form organic design right now and that hasn\’t really changed since early in the 20th century. Tsui never seems to address what, exactly, he intends to build his many proposed megastructures out of. (though in his Nexus marine colony design he\’s proposed electrolytic sea accretion -a technology once thought imminent but now known to be something of a hoax)

  13. Links - 10th April 2008... April 10, 2008 at 6:27 am

    [...] Mile high eco city (Inhabitat) [...]

  14. Mile High Tree Tower | ... April 6, 2008 at 7:23 am

    [...] With the expected population growth to become much larger occurring across the world, we are expected to see in the next 7 years, 22 megacities across the world have populations which exceed 10 million people, per the UN (via Inhabitat). [...]

  15. glen0071 April 4, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Hm. It’s kind of impressive, but I don’t know if it’s something I’d support. I mean, green building is always good. But, not necessarily a giant building to enclose a whole city.

    If I had seen it anywhere other than inhabitat I would have assumed it’s just an example of man’s arrogance: “Watch me build a giant building!”

    If it’s green, it’s a little redeemable. But, still unnecessary.

  16. ULTIMA. L'Architettura ... April 4, 2008 at 2:18 am

    [...] Inhabitat [...]

  17. lichud April 4, 2008 at 12:05 am

    whats wrong again with inhabitat? i want to lear nabout latest innovations, ideas and products and not waste my time with projects which have been released years ago…you can see here, it not happened “just now” that this super dooper structure was released: http://www.tdrinc.com/ultima.html

    Its from 1991. please try harder to get people informed about latest changes towards a sustainable future, and maybe really things that matter? otherwise you too might be responsible for this key phrase becoming a word which soon nobody really wants to hear anymore. would be a pitty…

  18. EJLima April 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    This race to tallest buildings will help advance technology like the race to space.

  19. doug l April 3, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I’m very impressed with Eugene Tsui’s design for his 2 mile high city, as I am with a great deal about his wealth of design talent( which you can see by googling his name and going to his website). I’ve thought along these same lines for some time, being an outsider in architecture myself and therefore thinking outside the box in the mode of R. Buckminster Fuller. As we’ve now seen that a Saudi prince has comitted to a mile high tower i Jedda Saudi Arabia of all places, I think we are about to see more of these mega scale constructions that offer so miuch in the way of improvement for those who will be living close urban environments but who recognize that they’re driving us insane with their designs that are so counter to our natural instinctive drive towards biophilia. We’ll begin to benefit from these grand visionary and futuristic designs in many ways. I hope the future class of city planners are watching and learning as we abandon the old concepts which we see have generated an abundance of futility and are just too expensive for our desire for sustaining economies and societies.

  20. GEARFUSE » Ultima... April 3, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    [...] Link [via] [...]

  21. Snark April 3, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I’m always unimpressed with these arcology-type buildings. I’m of the firm opinion that living in a large, tall building, even a traditional modern skyscraper, represents a severing of the connection between people and their environment – and is that really what we want? Ecological responsibility can’t be built among people who don’t know or care about the natural environment.

    High-density development doesn’t have to amputate us from the natural development. I’m a huge fan, personally, of the old Tuscan style of development – small, dense towns full of architectural interest, surrounded by the farmland that supports them and permeated with green space and built from local materials.

  22. hugo hugo April 3, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Great idea (does make me think about the simcity 2000 superstructures). This structure is so complete, it doesn’t even need a road connection… It looks like you can just put one of these plus a bunch of people in the desert and you’ll never see them again…

    No, seriously? Great structure with loads of potential.

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