12 Green Megastructures for an Eco-Fantastic Future

To tackle big problems – like overpopulation, desertification, lack of clean water and a need for cleaner energy – sometimes, nothing but big solutions will do. And these 12 sustainable urban living concepts are not just big. They’re massive megastructures that provide healthy high-density housing, capture or desalinate water, produce renewable energy and sometimes even create their own microclimates.

Living Mountain Skyscraper

(images via: evolo.us)

Could ‘living mountains’ save us from global warming-induced desertification? This concept for the 2011 Evolo Skyscraper Competition creates a livable oasis in one of the world’s harshest environments, the desert of Taklamakan in northwest China, creating a microclimate inside the man-made mountain. This superstructure includes 2,000-sq-ft ‘living pods’, man-made lakes produced by extracting water from the region’s substrate and rainwater collection. Eventually, multiple mountains could be linked using cable cars.

Waste-Recycling Underwater Skyscrapers

(images via: evolo.us)

Imagine using massive underwater skyscrapers to filter all of the plastic and other debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean. The ‘Lady Landfill Skyscraper’ consists of three main functions: trash collectors at the bottom, a recycling plant in the center and housing and recreation above the surface of the sea. The waste would be heated in the recycling chamber and converted into a gas which could then be stored in huge battery-like structures and used as energy. The shape of the structure was actually inspired by an upside-down Eiffel Tower.

Skeletal Skyscraper Harvests Energy from Lightning

(images via: evolo.us)

It’s an odd catch-22: if only we could figure out a less energy-intensive way to produce it, hydrogen fuel could be a great source of renewable energy. But the answer could come shooting straight down from the sky in the form of lightning. The Hydra Tower concept aims to harness those bolts of lightning and use them to literally smash molecules of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The skeletal frame of the tower is made from super-tough graphene, which is 200 times stronger than steel, so that it can withstand that kind of force. These towers would be placed in the tropics, which see 70% of all lightning strikes.

Green Tech City for Hanoi, Vietnam

(images via: inhabitat)

This incredible vision for an entire sustainable city within the city of Hanoi, Vietnam is actually being actively developed. Green Tech City, by SOM Architects, integrates two pre-existing villages to create a new sustainable urban center for 20,000 residents and incorporates both cutting edge modern technology and low-tech passive design customized to the culture and climate of Vietnam. The city will include a green corridor along the Red River with pedestrian-friendly residential neighborhoods located in close proximity to a towering commercial district. Canal water cooling, tri-generation plants, waste recycling and rainwater harvesting will help this city become a model for sustainable urban living.

Everrich 2 Apartments: Self-Sustaining Tower

(images via: designboom)

Another megastructure coming to Vietnam in the near future is the Everrich 2 Apartment complex by DWP Architects, a huge rolling curving structure that resembles an amusement park more than urban housing. Currently under construction, the complex contains 3,100 apartment units along with two floors of mixed retail and public space. The architects designed the structure to maximize daylighting and natural ventilation, and will use precast concrete and local masonry.

Flat Tower: High-Density Honeycomb Structure

(images via: evolo.us)

How can cities be more densely populated, without either dominating the skyline or spreading out to take up too much valuable green space? The Flat Tower concept packs in living space above ground level in an unusual honeycomb pattern, forming a sort of artificial hill. The green space below is left untouched, large openings let in plenty of sun and the structure is able to harvest both rainwater and solar energy.

PoroCity: Rehabilitation for Mumbai

(images via: evolo.us)

The triangular footprint in Mumbai currently occupied by the Dharavi slum – one of the densest in the world – could be transformed into terraced housing with PoroCity, a concept by Khushalani Associates. PoroCity would reorganize the housing of the slum, maintaining the small living spaces and communal living feel but making them more modern with built-in transportation including elevators and funiculars and including space for business and industry, eliminating the need for cars.

Reflections Development in Singapore

(images via: designboom)

Celebrated architect Daniel Libeskind will make a big splash on Singapore’s shoreline with ‘Reflections’, a controversial collection of curved towers containing 1,129 residential units that will be completed this year at Keppel Harbor. The six skyscrapers, connected by sky bridges and towering above low-rise villas, were spaced to allow views to the horizon. The structure won Singapore’s Green Mark Gold Award for significant energy savings.

Seawater-Filtering Skyscrapers from Old Oil Platforms

(images via: inhabitat)

Hundreds of disused offshore oil platforms could be transformed into livable skyscrapers that could desalinate sea water, providing a source of fresh water for millions of people who currently don’t have access to a clean source of this precious resource. The existing oil drill pipes would be used to draw up sea water and the water movement against the tower could provide enough energy to power the site’s facilities. Little pods on the structures would house workers as well as research facilities.

Solar-Powered Paris Triangle

(images via: luxist)

Paris is notoriously resistant to tall modern structures that would dramatically alter the city’s famous skyline, but after a ban on high-rise buildings was voted down, the door was opened for this 50-story glass pyramid called Le Projet Triangle at Port de Versailles. Designed by Herzog and De Meuron, the tower – powered by solar and wind energy – will be the third-tallest building in Paris. Construction has already begun and it’s due for completion in 2012.

KEPCO Green Energy Headquarters Concept

(images via: bustler)

When the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) announced a competition to design its new headquarters in a city near Naju, South Korea, one proposal stood out both for its size and its sustainable factors: a ‘Green Energy Theme Park’ that would not only serve as KEPCO’s home base but also as a way to show off renewable energy technology. The design consists of a 29-story tower on a landscape podium with a series of sloped green roofs, sun shading devices and a north side fully covered in moss which would catch water and naturally insulate the building. Winning third place, this design also includes wind turbines, greywater recycling, geothermal systems and solar panels.

Urban Trees Green Housing Projects

(images via: evolo.us)

With trunk-like central columns and trees growing on rooftop gardens, the Urban Tree project by Geotectura certainly lives up to its name. Housing units of various sizes are contained within ‘floating’ cubes, some of which even have projecting ‘sky terraces’ for outdoor living high in the sky. The result is lots of greenery and plenty of natural air flow, giving occupants healthier living spaces that feel more tied to nature and require less energy to heat and cool.


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