If we make the land less than habitable, the human race grows too large or we simply develop the means and decide to use it, there’s another place to go aside from the oceans, and that’s up. With some hovering in the sky like giant air balloons and others that are more like semi-stationary aircraft, these 12 interesting concepts for floating and flying cities offer breathtaking visions of high-elevation life.
Tolgahan Gungor’s Floating City
Silhouetted in a hazy sky, artist Tolgahan Gungor’s digital city almost looks like it’s simply reflected in a pool of water, until you take a closer look. Hovering in the clouds above the mountains with a land-based city in the background, Gungor’s futuristic creation features airy catwalks that make you wish for a panoramic view.
Buckminster Fuller’s Cloud Nine
Buckminster Fuller always had big ideas, including a massive floating city that would have housed 6,000 residents off the coast of Tokyo. The inventor of the geodesic dome imagined taking his spherical creations into the sky with ‘Cloud Nine’, an airborne habitat composed of free-floating or tethered spheres, each one mile in diameter and housing thousands of people. These spheres would function as hot air balloons, and residents would get back and forth with solar-powered aircraft.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky
(image via: io9)
Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Castle in the Sky sees Laputa, the floating island from Gulliver’s Travels, as the last remaining mythical sky city in an alternate-reality of Victorian Times, resembling the visions of author Jules Verne. Laputa itself is half crumbling ruins overtaken by the greenery of nature, but still futuristic in a steampunk sort of way.
Floating City of Platina from Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia
The Playstation 2 game Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia was set on a floating landmass called ‘Sol Ciel’, near which floats the city of Platina and its imposing tower, Ar tonelico. The city is rendered in detail in this concept drawing, showing the land mass in the background and train tracks resembling a roller coaster which provide access to the city and wind around it.
Cloud City by Alex Popescu
(image via: aksu)
Resembling a mirror image of itself complete with upside-down towers, artist Alex Popescu’s Cloud City does have a sort of Star Wars aesthetic which may or may not be reflected in its name. Popescu says he created it for a Romanian music video.
Alderaan Floating City by Ralph McQuarrie
As head production designer, Ralph McQuarrie is responsible for much of the imagery that Star Wars fans hold so dear. And thanks to McQuarrie, those same fanatics can finally get a look at Imperial capital city Alderaan before it was destroyed by the Death Star.
Fish-Inspired Floating City by John Berkey
(image via: io9)
Like Ralph McQuarrie, John Berkey is best known for his work as a Star Wars concept artist, but some of his creations were even more fantastic and futuristic than the original Star Wars poster art. This bizarre floating city in the sky is like a flying-fish-turned-aircraft, complete with a mouth and a single eye.
Dome Floating City by JF Liesenborghs
This spectacular hovering city by artist JF Liesenborghs looks as if it rivals some of the world’s biggest urban centers in sheer size, but it’s all contained within a spaceship-like dome, miles above the surface of the earth.
Migrating Floating Gardens
As green space has gone from ground level to rooftops in urban areas, at least one architect believes they’re due to go higher still. Rael San Fratello imagines ‘Migrating Floating Gardens’, trailing from large remotely controlled floating aircraft that would move around the city and even migrate seasonally to warmer locales.
Avatar’s Floating Mountains
Inspired by the real-life (but sadly not floating) Hallelujah Mountains of China, Avatar’s floating mountains on the fictional planet of Pandora may not be physically possible, but they sure are beautiful. In fact, China liked them so much that it decided to rename its own incredible towering hunks of rock the ‘Avatar Hallelujah Mountains’.
The Floating House from Pixar’s ‘Up’
(image via: wired)
How many balloons would it really take to lift a house? In Pixar’s ‘Up’, a huge bunch of balloons was simply tied to the fireplace grate through the chimney. Keeping in mind that this is a fictional animated film, Wired did the calculations to determine whether balloons could really lift a house. Their conclusion: it would take 105,854 balloons, each measuring three feet in diameter, to make a 100,000 pound house buoyant.
Sky-Terra Tower Cities
They may retain a tenuous connection to the ground, but the Sky-Terra Towers – living up to their name – would bring a variety of city functions far up into the clouds on landscaped platforms. City residents could escape the pollution at ground level and enjoy public parks, jogging paths, pools, amphitheaters and more high in the sky. Given annoying obstacles like fuel consumption and gravity, such sky towers may be the closest we’ll get to floating cities for a very long time.