Building Lifter

[Image: Proposal image for Skylifter, capable of "delivering whole buildings to remote locations"].

Before I realized that Up is actually an unwatchable film about talking dogs, I probably would have used it as an analogy here: an Australian firm called Skylifter has devised what Popular Science describes as "a better way to transport heavy equipment to remote areas that are beyond the reach of railways, roads and runways." The Skylifter system can lift up to 150 tons, which means it "could be [used for] delivering whole buildings to remote locations" within just a few short years (after they, you know, figure out how to make it work).

But, yes, please: I would like to air-lift Angkor Wat to a small town in northern Wisconsin. Thank you. Imagine the hijacking scenarios! In fact, I can imagine a whole new cable television series emerging from this, like Ice Road Truckers gone airborne, in which amazed home viewers watch the international building-transportation industry literally take off: whole villages of detached buildings drift across the sky, disappearing over the nearest horizon.

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Blogger nick said...

Dude, how did you not like "Up"?

October 04, 2010 3:11 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Nick, it was horrible! 85% of the film is listening to talking dogs, and absolutely nothing happens after the balloon touches down. I couldn't handle it. Sorry!

October 04, 2010 3:13 PM  
Blogger aaron said...

I think Carmen Sandiego had one of these.

October 04, 2010 3:56 PM  
Blogger lisamoab said...

Agree about Up - clearly not a filmmaking geek. However, I did enjoy the fact that when I went to check out "Skylifter" the site's owner had exceeded its bandwidth. Bless ;>

October 04, 2010 4:26 PM  
Blogger dmoore0 said...

Nothing happens after the house touches down? Bah wha??

October 04, 2010 6:14 PM  
Blogger Fritz Bogott said...


October 04, 2010 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're so snob.

not yours
the Wicked Weasel.

October 04, 2010 10:41 PM  
Blogger Immortal Ping said...


October 05, 2010 4:30 AM  
Blogger Paul Theriault said...

Aside from what appears to have been inflammatory comments about Up, this thing is incredible. The purely aesthetic design is of a caliber approaching science fiction, it looks like an amazing flying machine which has taken a whole new form, allowing it to do things once unimaginable. I can't wait for the first time I see one in action.
Can't you just imagine walking to work, hearing construction sounds coming from around the corner, the same ones that have been greeting you way too early for the last five days, odd that there's a project of that scope that you haven't heard about, it's not like this is a big town. With each step a different layer to the sounds is making itself known to your ears, in fact the whole sky seems to be humming deep, a sort of blanket of distant engines from nowhere other than UP. At the corner with the high fence, you make your turn to the right, toward the construction site where they've been doing the foundation work, along with a lot of electric and plumbing, on the old Historical Society, one of the oldest buildings in town, and as you make that step your left leg aims kinda high on his approach, because your brain is fully engaged with what the hell am I looking at, that should be the sky up there is that a cloud no it's a thing it's a ship it's got writing on it so it's something from here but what the hell oh it's attaching an arm or a leg or a tube or a pipe to the top of WHAT THE OH MY GOD, the building is being simply flown away. Look at that, all the pipes trimmed and capped off, the electrical and communication wires neatly coiled, a few clods of dirt and one carpenter's T shirt, which was left on the roof when he snuck up there and almost fell asleep on his morning break, descend through the air.

October 05, 2010 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Josh Glenn said...

This was Buckminster Fuller's idea — I've seen drawings he did detailing how prefabricated houses would be airlifted into remote locations by dirigible or whatever... Cool!

October 05, 2010 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Dennis Harvey said...

@josh Glenn

I was just about to mention fuller.

I remember seeing drawings he made that depicted an airship delivering a pre-fabricated building to a site in a remote area. The plan involved attaching the building to bedrock, which would be exposed by a bomb dropped from the airship.

The building hanging below the airship in the skylifter proposal image even looks sort of like something fuller would have designed.

October 05, 2010 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Eric Fescenmeyer said...

Most like to see more about this device, seems the site has been Slashdotted. :( Does anyone have any harder specifications on it?

October 05, 2010 5:31 PM  
Anonymous robes said...

This actually predates Buckminster Fuller, coming from German Utopian architectural fiction writer Paul Scheerbart. Dating from at least as early as 1914, if not earlier.

October 05, 2010 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Glenn said...

I wish someone would translate Scheerbart into English -- I've wanted to read him for years. This is helpful to know, @robes, thanks.

October 06, 2010 4:35 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

The German company "Cargo lifter" had a similar project some years ago - now they are bankrupt. Still they left behind their production facility:
Nowadays it found a new use: An interesting article about it can be found at strange harvest:

October 08, 2010 7:00 AM  

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