In the 21st century, humans are increasingly on the move, traveling across the globe and perhaps, sometime in the future, across the galaxy. We’ve already got enormous cruise ship ‘cities on the sea’, but what about other kinds of mobile cities? Science fiction, concept designers and architects have brought us these 11 awesome ambulatory urban centers ranging from post-apocalyptic escapes on wheels to massive castles that float around in the sky.
Ron Herron’s Walking City
(images via: archigram)
Proposed by architect Ron Herron in a 1964 Archigram magazine article, this ‘Walking City’ concept could actually provide an ideal setting for a scary sci-fi film. Herron imagined massive mobile self-aware robotic structures that roam the earth so they can move to wherever their particular resources or manufacturing abilities are needed.
Philip Reeve’s Traction Cities
(image via: 3-hares)
Naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone took Herron’s idea and turned it into “Municipal Darwinism”, in which intelligent mobile cities take part in a sort of mechanical food chain, with the larger “Traction Cities” consuming the smaller ones. Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines tosses these tiered predatory cities into battle with one another.
Wandering City by Sergey Skachkov
(image via: cgi society)
Russian concept artist Sergey Skachkov captures a similar mood with his ‘Wandering City’, a digital painting depicting a Herron-like stacked structure on top of a mobile base, chugging along in a cloudy landscape. ‘Wandering City’ earned an honorable mention in the NVArt artspace competition.
Howl’s Moving Castle
(image via: fanpop)
Not all portable cities are land-based. One of the most famous examples of a fictional flying ‘city’ is ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. The fantasy-novel-turned-Japanese-film features a fish-shaped steampunk structure with a protruding tongue that’s really somewhere between castle and city.
(image via: cgi society)
Another entry in the CG Society NVArt artspace competition is ‘Water Station’ by Steve Bjorck, who says of his creation: “The planet is hot and dry. The only water left is hidden deep under the dead crust. This nomadic colony tap into ancient wells scattered across the planets surface with a large, floating station similar to Earths oil and gas platforms. This well has a healthy supply of fresh water, they will be able to stay here for many months, maybe years.”
Superstar: A Mobile Chinatown
(images via: dezeen)
Chinese architecture firm MAD isn’t exactly pleased with New York’s Chinatown, calling it a sloppy, kitschy, outdated tourist trap. What could bring it up to date? Oh, maybe making it a bizarre star-shaped mobile city that can take the latest and greatest of Chinese food, inventions and culture to other cities around the world. ‘The Superstar’ is a self-sustaining city that grows its own food and recycles all of its waste so as never to be a burden on its host cities.
(image via: cgi society)
Few flying cities are quite as beautiful and organic-looking as ‘Gaia’s Gift’, a digital concept by Petar Milivojevic of Serbia, who says “Gaia represents the energy of all living and unliving parts of the earth that are a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. Combined with the old theory of Fibonacci about Golden spiral which shows us the perfect balance in nature.”
(images via: wookieepedia)
It could be argued that many Star Wars ships are mobile cities, including the Death Star. But one is particularly interesting: Nomad City, a reclaimed Dreadnaught cruiser mounted on 40 captured AT-ATs that constantly roamed the surface of Nkllon in search of minerals to mine.
Complex in the Center of the Universe
(image via: impact lab)
Of all the unbelievably awe-inspiring architecture concepts submitted for the NVArt artspace competition, this one takes the cake: ‘Complex in the Center of the Universe’ by Polish artist Marek Staszek won first place with a hovering multi-level city complete with green space and water fountains. The artist says “I wanted to achieve complete integration of future architecture with nature, complete with green parks, trees and gardens. Everything that makes us feel relaxed and calm. Architecture can give people magnificent vistas, as well as a small historical old-town feel. “
Stacked City Portable Urban Shelter
(images via: import.export)
A different kind of ‘portable city’ makes it easy to create a home no matter where you go. The Stacked City camping tower by Import.Export is a long way from primitive tent camping, giving travelers an otherwise unattainable view of their surroundings and making them anything but low-profile. As Dornob points out, there are security issues to be addressed, but designs like these could be the turning point for real-life mobile dwellings that go far beyond recreational vehicles.
LEGO Crawler Town
(image via: inhabitat)
Designer Dave DeGobbi brilliantly put LEGO blocks to work in creating a concept model of a massive mobile structure on wheels that “roams the barren wastes of a post steam-punk world after cataclysmic climate change do [sic] to excessive coal use.” According to DeGobbi, this town is where it’s at, considering that it’s the last place to find such luxuries as pizza, fresh vegetables and beer.