In these times of global weirding, natural disasters can strike without rhyme or reason. Tornadoes, earthquakes, and forest fires appear more frequently and with more fury, even in areas as wild as the Amazon. To help protect this vital rainforest ecosystem from the destructive threat of fire, Chinese designers Jie Huang, Jin Wei, Qiaowan Tang, Yiwei Yu, and Zhe Hao conceived of a massive watertower skyscraper such as the world has never seen to stand watch over the Amazon. Called the "Rainforest Guardian," this massive structure would serve as a water tower, a forest fire station, a weather station, and a scientific research center all rolled into one.
The general shape of the Rainforest Guardian Skyscraper is inspired by the lotus flower, a plant well known for its ability to survive for many decades in a watery environment. Like the lotus flower, the Rainforest Guardian would feature a spherical flat platform at its highest point, connected to the ground by a series of external arteries or “roots.” Like the spread petals of the lotus, the flat platform would serve as a rainwater harvesting station, filtering and then storing the collected water in spare reservoirs.
“Using capillarity combined with active energy, the aerial roots with a distinct sponge-structure can absorb and store the excess water without disturbing the Amazon’s ecosystem. In the case of fire, firefighters fly to the scene and extinguish the fire with the collected water,” write the designers. Of course, the firefighters of which they speak aren’t physical beings. Instead, they’re unmanned aerial vehicles–drones–which could land on the Rainforest Guardian like so many flies, collecting water from the tower before buzzing off to spray it on the area in need.
“In addition, the Guardian Skyscraper provides special scientific research laboratories for scientists to monitor the climate change and the ecosystem stability. The laboratories also act as exhibition spaces for tourists to create environmental awareness,” explain the designers.
While merely conceptual at this point, the Guardian Skyscraper was impressive enough to earn an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Evolo Skyscraper Competition.