Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inverted skyscraper

Architecture has gone underground, and not just on a small scale, like hobbit houses or reclaimed missile silos. In response to a competition to provoke and promote innovative concepts of vertical density, architects from around the world have envisioned skyscrapers that are upside-down. Matthew Fromboluti of Washington University in St. Louis designed a living space called "Above Below" (schematics here) for Arizona's massive Lavender Pit Mine (900' deep and 300 acres in diameter). A "solar chimney" provides light and ventilation to the deepest reaches of the structure, which is entirely self-sustaining, with its own source of electricity and a water recycling system. Skylights in the roof let in sunlight to grow crops on tiered platforms underground and native vegetation covers the dome roof, making the building virtually undetectable on the surface. The Mexican firm BNKR Arquitectura has designed an inverted pyramid they call The Earthscraper (1st and 2nd images, more photos here), which would extend 65 stories below the surface of Mexico City’s main square. The “Zócalo,” as it is known, is 57,600 sq m in area and bordered by the Cathedral, the National Palace, and the City Government buildings. With no empty space available in the capital and new building height limited to 8 stories, the plan preserves the hierarchy of the existing buildings and the utility of the public square for concerts, political rallies, cultural exhibitions. and military parades. The habitable spaces underneath the glass floor will have natural lighting and ventilation.

Inverted buildings not only conserve space, they are more energy-efficient than traditional skyscrapers, safer from earthquakes, don't suffer from the deteriorating effects of sun, wind and rain. The BNKR architects get additional points for wishing their clients and visitors a Happy Halloween (click on News)! Speaking of which, compare the card I received from my sister and family (3rd image) with the photo of my nephew Ross (4th image) behind the 12lbs of candy he took in trick-or-treating! Good thing he grew out of his allergy to chocolate...

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