The Shimizu Corporation is a 200 year old Japanese construction company based in Tokyo. Its mission includes all of the bland platitudes that you could find on the website of any company with a social conscience – finding innovative solutions to pressing environmental and commercial problems, and so on – but where it gets interesting is in the claim that Shimizu:
“..seeks to increase customer satisfaction and contribute to society by providing value that surpasses all expectations.”
And surpass all expectations they certainly do. Shimizu recently hit relatively muted headlines with their proposal to save Kiribati, a series of low lying islands that face extinction in the face of rising sea levels. Their solution? Transform each of Kiribati’s islands into floating entities with ‘cities in the sky’ that are as much as 1000 metres tall. Crazy? Yes. Awesome? Yes.
To be clear, none of this stuff is cheap. The Kiribati Solution – lovingly referred to as ‘The Green Float’ – is set to cost £317 billion, which is over 3000 times Kiribati’s GDP from 2012. But a human’s gotta dream, right?
Without further ado, here they are, from 1 to 5 – Shimizu corp’s most amazing proposals for the future:
1. The Green Float
This is the idea that was offered to the President of Kiribati. The plan calls for a series of 3000m wide lily pads (called ‘districts’) to be constructed and tethered to the ocean floor. These ‘districts’ each have a 1000m tall ‘City in the sky’, equipped with enough space to house 30,000 people, a ‘plant factory’ to manufacture food for the inhabitants, and more housing around the base of the City to accommodate a further 10,000 people. The people on the base would benefit from access to beaches and lagoons, ‘teeming with fish and shellfish’. Sounds lovely.
As the model is the same for each lily pad, it would theoretically be possible to join 5 ‘districts’ together and call it a city, then join together 5 cities and call it a country.
The plan would be carbon-neutral, self-sufficient, and resistant to earthquakes / typhoons / moles.
Pretty far-out thinking, right?
2. Luna Ring
For this idea, Shimizu would use materials found on the moon to build a belt of solar power generators around the moon’s equator. The side of the moon facing the sun would collect all of the energy, shift it around the moon to the side facing the earth, and then beam it down to a number of energy plants on Earth. Simples.
Because the solar generators are glued onto an object that sits in a vacuum, the plan avoids the problems that usually hit solar panels – sometimes clouds get in the way, or sometimes it gets dark. And as the materials needed for construction are all contained on the moon anyway, the luna ring could be created without the hassle of beaming every single item needed for the build into space before it is used.
Is this even possible? Who knows, but it gets my vote for extreme ingenuity.
3. Pyramid City in the Air
Imagine it: office buildings, residential complexes, sports facilities – each with the potential to be 100 stories high – contained within only one of the pyramid city’s dozens of octagonal units. Huge rods like the ones in the picture wedge into the ground and prop up the most beautiful, monstrous, futuristic complex you’ve ever seen.
You could enter the pyramid from underground, from land, or via helipad. To move from section to section you would either travel via horizontal elevators or through diagonal shafts. ‘Aint it crazy?
The concept is slated to measure 200 metres high and be fit for one million people.
Of all of the ideas on the table, this is probably my favourite, as much for the madness as for the clear sense that this was just ripped out of a ’60s sci-fi novel. I mean, just look at the accompanying illustrations:
There are the white space suits that seem to have represented the distant future for the past 50 years, the heavy reliance upon glass, the huge concentration of people in one space. It’s great!
4. Urban Geo-grid
This one is actually quite practical. Greater Tokyo is huge – but not big enough for the rapidly expanding population. And if you can’t build any further up… build down.
Creating an urban geo-grid also has the added benefit of allowing huge amounts of construction without disrupting the day to day life in one of the most congested cities in the world.
Yes, there’s the whole ‘lack of light’ thing. And the other one – that it’s kinda degrading to be forced under the earth. But is deep-realm-dwelling (my term) really any worse than being shoved into a box apartment with no windows for £1200 a month?
The plans include huge ‘grid stations’ that house hotels, vast shopping centres, and offices. Once you’re in a building, who cares whether it’s 100 feet in the air or 100 feet below the ground? As long as it has a bit of sunshine in the summer (which Shimizu has accounted for by proposing a solar lighting system ‘that channels natural light’), you can rest easy and start complaining about normal things, like the traffic on the way to work.
5. Desert Aqua Net
Desertification, the slightly more menacing brother of dessertification, is the name for the gradual transformation of useful green land into worthless sandy land. Forward thinking Shimizu Corp have a way to make this land useful again – whack some lakes in the desert, connect the lakes to the sea with some rivers, and then put an island on the lake.
Pumps would be installed to create an artificial flow of water from sea to lake, otherwise there would be a serious stagnation issue.
How to power the islands? Simple, just beam some Luna Ring solar energy onto their Green Floats.
All quotes and photos taken from Shimizu Corporation’s website, http://www.shimz.co.jp/english/theme/dream/index.html