We will migrate into the sky

[Image: Courtesy of Studio Lindfors].

For a recent design competition called What if New York City..., architects and city planners were asked:
    What if New York City were hit by a Category 3 hurricane? What if the most densely residential city in the country loses hundreds of thousands of homes in a few hours? What if millions are left with nowhere to live, to work, or to go to school? What if subways flood, streets close, and whole neighborhoods are submerged by up to 23 feet of ocean water and battered by 130 mile-per-hour winds? What if New Yorkers need a place to live during years of reconstruction?
Local architects Studio Lindfors offered a weirdly hilarious answer to these questions in the form of habitable blimps.
Welcome to Cloud City.

[Images: Courtesy of Studio Lindfors; maybe Will Smith, in I Am Legend should have lived in one of these things... If so, he might have survived].

"Though perhaps an unusual proposal," we read, "Cloud City is literally an uplifting experience that will allow communities to remain intact as they pull themselves out of the rubble."
It's an Archigram-like instant city in the sky:
    The homes can be rapidly deployed with minimal site preparation. They are intended to ‘plug in’ to existing utility services, and can be deployed by a team of four workers in roughly an hour. Once airborne, the floating homes allow construction crews below to work unimpeded, speeding up the recovery effort. This in turn reduces cost overruns and unnecessary delays.
The hovering metropolis seems easy enough to construct.

[Images: Courtesy of Studio Lindfors].

As the architects themselves explain, the blimps are a kind of emergency city, held in reserve:
    Inflatable homes would be pre-fabricated and stored in warehouses for deployment as required. Each home consists of three basic components: an inflatable bladder, a rigid core, and a metal and wood platform. The bladder would consist of two compartments, filled with pressurized helium (which is non-combustible). The pressurized gas would give shape to the tailored and stitched fabric shell, creating an open living space within. Made from recycled polyester fabric, the balloon has a large surface area suitable for mounting of flexible solar panels for generating electricity. Within this living space is a rigid core which contains an efficient kitchenette and bathroom, along with plumbing and electrical services. The 300sf living space is open, and can be configured in many ways, with up to three bedroom spaces suitable for a family of four.
However, a part of me thinks there's no real reason to wait until disaster strikes; we could simply migrate into the sky. Renewing ourselves – becoming literally airborne – in a vertical migration that evacuates the earth.
Let's say you're from Kansas City. You haven't been home in two decades. You don't get along with your family anymore and, well: you just don't want to go back. But then a special occasion comes up and you book a flight home.
The whole city has been replaced with blimps.

[Image: Courtesy of Studio Lindfors].

You hadn't heard about this. Somehow your newspaper just didn't pick it up – the transition was so slow that no one noticed – or you simply missed that article, but, either way, you're stunned. Everyone is up in the sky.
There are no streets. You see your dad – in fact, he sees you – waving down from a well-tethered terrace. He's barbecuing something and drinking Diet Coke. No one pays property tax, just a small tethering fee. They grow their gardens on secondary platforms that drift around like balloons in a parade. Only one falling death has been reported in the last two years.
The blimps themselves are bulletproof.
They are suburbs in the sky.

[Image: Courtesy of Studio Lindfors].

In any case, read more about the project at Studio Lindfors's site – and don't miss the other competition entries, some of which are also worth posting.

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Anonymous Brian Sholis said...

The artist Tomas Saraceno has been working on a similar project, titled Air-Port City. Here are a few links:

The artist's page at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, his New York dealer

An exhibition page at the Berkeley Art Museum

Hit up Google for more information.

February 07, 2008 2:34 PM  
Blogger mb said...

totally unrelated-- i've been thinking a lot about LEDs lately. Do you know if an interactive LED wall has ever been used in a building facade.. a storefront perhaps? imagine walking by a store and having your image projected at 2x life size on a lo-res LED wall.

check out this video for reference
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b694exl_oZo

February 07, 2008 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about houses with zero footprint!

February 07, 2008 4:33 PM  
Anonymous guest said...

uh....how do you get down? I mean, i can see a rope ladder or something working, but after a disaster there would probably be a fair amount of people in no condition to climb.

February 07, 2008 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A brilliant, perfectly timed solution, given all the hot air available during an election year! Bravo!

February 07, 2008 4:48 PM  
Anonymous sv said...

i'd go stir-crazy. and the movement between ground and blimp might be problematic.. how would one move around once on the ground? "nobody pays property taxes" YEAH RIGHT!

but nonetheless this is a really novel idea and i like it. probably better than FEMA trailers for certain situations.

February 07, 2008 4:51 PM  
Blogger Alexander Trevi said...

I'd like to throw in "Rise of the Cybermen" and "The Age of Steel", a Series 2 two-parter of Doctor Who.

February 07, 2008 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Crusty the Clown said...

I was wondering the same thing. According to the competition website:

"The inflatable structures are rapidly deployable over a variety of terrain, accessed by lowering the home via a hand cranked winch."

I suppose there would have to be a winch both on the ground and on the balloon, right?

February 07, 2008 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Hopeless pedant said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you describing a category five hurricane?

February 07, 2008 5:15 PM  
Anonymous porkbarrel said...

Probably no issues with another hurricane coming through or other high wind-speed event with these,right?

February 07, 2008 6:32 PM  
Blogger jimmy said...

Alexander - Those are my favorite episodes yet!

February 07, 2008 7:08 PM  
Blogger Paco Argenti said...

Looks like fun.

I was just thinking the other day that we should bring the blimps back. The Hindenburg gave them all bad name. They were so comfortable and luxurious and slow. Let's bring back the blimps.

February 08, 2008 12:01 AM  
Anonymous jimmy said...

wow..amazing idea and concepts

February 08, 2008 3:38 AM  
Anonymous veronica said...

Yes! I believe blimps are also the future for tourism in natural areas.

February 08, 2008 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Geobob said...

I'm with "porkbarrel",
how ironic an idea to send people up to the sky in little blimps hours after a massive hurricane with nothing but a couple of stays and a winch holding them in-place!

But novel none the less.

February 08, 2008 8:06 AM  
Anonymous nycer said...

ummm... property taxes pay for schools along with local and state government (police fire, fire departments, sewrage and waste disposal, etc). even if everyone lived in the sky we would still have to pay some form of tax for these services.

also, just because everyone lives in blimps doesn't mean that roads won't be necessary if you live in a blimp miles from where you work, you'll still have to drive there.

i'm actually from the gulf coast. in the wake of katrina, the entire coast has been turned into a (fema) trailer park. all this would be is a blimp trailer park.

trailer parks aren't great places to live. this post reminds me of the movie "The Long, Long Trailer" from the 50s in which trailer homes are portrayed as convenient homes of the future.

February 08, 2008 12:21 PM  
Blogger jimmy said...

uh-oh. Its' starting...
Can cybermen be far behind?

February 08, 2008 12:48 PM  
Anonymous DEFJAM said...

Are we not currently in the midst of what some might describe as a helium shortage? This seems like a great idea, but it seems analogous to a boat without water...

February 08, 2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger TOR Hershman said...

What'll happen?

The Red Cross will collect 50 billion dollars and then
dole-out half a billion.

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

February 08, 2008 10:26 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Where are the catwalks running between the baloons?

I wanna see some infrastructure, like those little Ewak bridges in the forest planet on Empire Strikes Back.

With pathways in place, can some of these baloons be bodegas or hot dog stands? Would not want to climb down a latter to buy a pepsi and skittles at 2am.

I also would like to see these painted, maybe some in foe-stone or vinyl house cladding?

February 09, 2008 12:51 AM  
Blogger springer said...

I can't believe I'm the first to mention the great Donald Barthelme short story "The Balloon." Go read it now, all of you.

February 09, 2008 12:59 AM  
Blogger Paco Argenti said...

Je veux vivre dans un ballon au-dessus de Malibu.

February 09, 2008 1:51 PM  
Blogger mr. v. said...

It killed me that the majority of other solutions posted as 'winners' failed to notice that the city would be "submerged by up to 23' of ocean water".

Many of the winners used trucks to transport structures to the sites.

Uh... Semis don't do so well in floods, I am guessing.

February 09, 2008 11:31 PM  
Blogger babaleela said...

you seem to be seek out, present and make real manifestations of fictions. it was an absolute joy to read.

February 10, 2008 1:51 PM  
Blogger the_sounder said...

i have always imagined this happening in my head. interesting to see it manifested in these plans. very sci-fi!

February 10, 2008 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Tina said...

this reminds me of this project i saw a while back

http://www.flickr.com/photos/werdsnave/sets/72157594182480263/

February 10, 2008 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will Smith DIES in I Am Legend?!

Thanks for the spoiler.



Oh yeah, and those balloon thingies are weird.

February 13, 2008 10:37 AM  
Anonymous A-MINIMAL STUDIO said...

I REMEMBER "AEREAL PARIS" , PROJECT OF LEBBEUS WOODS 1887.

WWW.LEBBEUSWOODS.NET

February 14, 2008 12:26 PM  
Blogger LKRaider said...

Also, check out this "The Doves" band music video, in which blimps 'migrate' architecture and use it as bombarding ammo:

http://www.joyriderfilms.com/reuben_sutherland/the_doves_qt.html

June 16, 2008 11:02 PM  

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