Earth’s tallest building will not even be on Earth

I grew up watching Hannah-Barbera cartoons, so you can understand my excitement when one of those imagined worlds is about to morph into reality, partly, at least. I’m talking about the ultra-futuristic (and, at one point of time, difficult to see as potentially possible) backdrop of the Jetsons. When I was a kid, most of the things shown in the show were just a figment of the animator’s wild imagination – from the conveyor belts to the automatic doors to the robotic maid, the hover-cars, video calls, vending machines, LCD screens.

Modern science owes so much to this cartoon! I wonder if so much inspiration for taking gadgetry to the next level was ever derived from one single source. As amazing as it has been to see most of the above mentioned technological wonders becoming a reality, I was definitely not prepared for the real life version of the most perplexing idea shown in the show – that of buildings balanced on extremely narrow, cord-like pillars whose foundation could be guessed to be on earth.

(buildings as seen in the Jetsons)

It’s its upside-down version that we might be seeing soon.

A new York-based architecture firm, Clouds Architecture Office, has proposed a plan to build a skyscraper which would be strung from an asteroid forced into a geosynchronous orbit 48280.32 km above Earth’s surface. Named the Analemma Tower (analemma is the figure eight pattern traced by the Sun when tracked from the same place on Earth through the year), this outrageous structure – if constructed – would be the tallest ever built. According to the recently released concept art, the building would be nearly 32 km high.

(concept art for Analemma)

Compare this to Burj Khalifa, the current record holder for the tallest building in the world, which is just a shade over 0.8 km in height.

“Analemma inverts the traditional diagram of an earth-based foundation, instead depending on a space-based supporting foundation from which  the tower is suspended. By placing a large asteroid into orbit over earth, a high strength cable can be lowered towards the surface of earth from which a super tall tower can be suspended,” the firm said accompanying the artwork and plans.

Since this new tower typology is suspended in the air, it can be constructed anywhere in the world and transported to it final location. The proposal calls for Analemma to be constructed over Dubai, which has proven to be a specialist in tall building construction at one-fifth the cost of New York construction.

Analemma Tower’s designer Ostap Rudakevych told has explained the tower could be made of durable and lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum.

(Analemma as it would appear from below)

The cable in question would achieve the required strength to support the structure through advanced engineering.

Since the asteroid to which this skyscraper is speculated to be suspended from will follow an orbit, it means that the building will constantly be on the move, journey through the two hemispheres in one day  at a speeds that could reach 300mph. Power to enable this would come from space based solar panels that have a constant exposure to sunlight, and water for the tower will be captured from clouds and rainwater and maintained in a semi-closed loop system.

(suggested space-based foundation of the skyscraper)

If only parents back then had known that there was more to the Jetsons than just prime time entertainment for kids and not cut down their tv time, the world would probably have more scientists and innovators by now, if not more millionaires who could actually afford to buy an apartment in this crazy concept of a high-rise (or low-drop?)

 – by Zaiceka Ahmed

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