The "Ultima" Tower,
Two-mile High Sky City
Any densely populated urban environment
Project Owner: None
Location: Any densely populated urban environment
Population: 1,000,000 people
Exterior surface area of building: 150,000,000 square feet
Enclosed volume: 53,000,000,000 cubic feet
Square footage: 1,500,000,000
Total enclosed acreage: 39,000 acres
Elevator speed: 20 feet per second (13 miles per hour) 9 minutes
and 40 seconds to reach the top floor from the ground floor.
Dimensions: Height--10,560 feet; Diameter at the base--6000 feet;
Number of stories--500;
Total Square Feet: Approximately 5,000,000 square feet
Why build a two-mile high, one mile wide building? To
prevent the uncontrolled blight of the natural landscape by rapacious
developers and industry. At current rates the surface of the planet
will be nearly totally covered with residential, commercial and apartment
dwellings within the coming century. Large structures such as these
bring nature upward to preserve the natural surroundings and to add
natural surroundings in a controlled environment. This two-mile high,
trumpet bell-shaped, tension structure is the most stable and aerodynamic
shape ever conceived for a tall structure. Its upper level wall thicknesses
are the same as the lower level wall thicknesses unlike other structural
systems that are extremely tall. It is like a suspension cable bridge
stood on end. There are 120 levels to the structure with great heights
at each level. The scale of this stucture is such that the entire central
district of Beijing could fit into its base. One must not think in terms
of floors but, instead, imagine entire landscaped neighborhood districts
with "skies" that are 30 to 50 meters high. Lakes, streams, rivers,
hills and ravines comprise the soil landscape on which residential,
office, commercial, retail and entertainment buildings can be built.
The concept can be thought of as what would happen if
nature grew upwards with multi-soil levels. Of course the structure
itself acts like a living organism with its wind and atmospheric energy
conversion systems, photovoltaic exterior sheathing, and opening/closing
cowl-vent windows that allow natural air into the interior without mechanical
intervention. The exterior walls are made of structural glass that conforms
to the cris-crossing, double helix, cable strand tension system that
disperses all exterior forces along the surface. If wind or earthquake
shock waves pushes or disturbs one portion of the structure the other
portion absorbs and dissipates the forces. Ecological efficiency is
a rule and all areas of the structure feature resource conserving technolgy
such as recycled building materials, compost toilets, nature-based water
cleansing systems for all buildings, plentiful amounts of forrest, plant
life and water-based ecosystems.
In essence, Ultima Tower/Sky City is more an ecosystems
design than an architectural habitation design. The structure provides
a basis for architectural development upon which architectural diversity
can flourish. Sunlight is brought into the center of the structure by
means of a hollow, mirrored core that reflects sunlight and disperses
it within the structure. This allows for both interior and exterior
sunlight to exist in plentiful amounts. The tower sits in a natural
setting in a large lake. The lake water is drawn up throughout the structure
and used for cooling floors and walls. A portion of this water is heated
by large passive solar panels and left to fall by gravity to be used
at the various levels. No internal combustion engines or toxic pollutants
exist within the confines of the structure. Everything is hydrogen gas,
electrical or water powered and all heating cooling is regulated by
plants and trees.
Construction Materials: High-strength steel, high-strength
concrete, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, acrylic, patina copper,
stainless steel cable, self-shading glass, composite ceramics, tempered
Special Features: Atmospheric Thermal Energy Conversion power
supplies, built-in windmills, photovoltaic solar cells, hydrogen gas
power supplies, self-regulating/self-shading glass, twelve storey-vertical
high-speed train system, non-mechanical heating/ventilation and air
conditioning system, ground level waterfalls for air cooling and humidity
control, aerodynamic cowl window systems, open garden areas on each
Ecological Requirements: To preserve the natural beauty of
nature by condensing the areas of living, working environments, commerce
and industry into an upwardly directed architectural structure. Multi-storied
gardens are to be infused with architectural components. The presence
of natural sunlight, fresh air, breeze and panoramic views are to
be of primary importance. Ease and quickness of transportation vertically
and laterally is crucial. The building must be fireproof, waterproof,
able to resist great wind velocities and be extremely earthquake resistant.
Wherever possible reduce energy use. Avoid utility costs and the use
of mechanical heating and air conditioning.
General Description of Project: While engaged in a contracted
study of the San Francisco Bay, its population growth, infrastructure,
park areas, transportation corridors, etc., We saw at once the need
for preserving what little natural park-like areas there were in such
a densely composed area like the San Francisco Bay. Transportation
was daily growing further and further beyond its capacity. The expansion
of urban neighborhoods in and around cities was blighting the earth
with more monotony and ugliness. The earth was being eaten up by the
continuous disseminating reach of developers. The outward swelling
of developing neighborhoods, industrial "parks", of refineries, factories
and commercial "strips" all contributed to an offensive countenance
of the area.
Section. South and North Elevation drawings.
This increasing dilation of people and property is devastating to
the well-being of our environment and we are supplanting the health
of our natural environment for the superficial mediocrity of our built
environment. The continuation of this process will inevitably lead
to a kind of psychological and spiritual suffocation by destroying
the living environment at an alarming rate.
Seeing that urban sprawl shall surely destroy every semblance of our
living environment a viable alternative is to go up. That is, to build
in such a way as to minimize the "footprint" of our human-made environments
and maximize the sense of openness and close proximity to our natural
surroundings. Given the technology and know-how we now have in the
construction of large,tall structures a building two miles high is
not beyond our means.
The trumpet bell shape, modeled after the highest structure created
by a creature other than human, the termite's nest structures of Africa,
is a most efficient form for its compressive characteristics allow
the thickness of the upper supporting walls to be uniform in thickness
down through the bottom of the building. No other shape can dispel
loads from top to bottom, is effectively aerodynamic and retains such
stability in a tall building. The size of its base would completely
enclose the entire financial district of San Francisco, approximately
7000 feet across, and contains four of the world's largest waterfalls
surrounded by garden terraces. Gardens are situated at all exterior
and interior openings. The whole tower could be thought of as an upward
extension of the earth with layers of vegetation growing, level by
level. All residences have a minimum of 100 feet by 100 feet of property
where 50% of the property is covered by natural vegetation.
Large bodies of water are placed at twelve separate levels and serve
multiple functions; as fire barriers and fire sprinkler system reservoirs,
as recycled water catch basins, as recreational lakes, rivers, waterfalls
and streams. Whenever possible whole ecosystems are supported within
the building. The building is thought of as a living organism in itself
capable of sustaining multitudinal life at many scales. Human beings
are an indivisible of this larger life system and are nourished by
the presence of other life forms. In this way the best attributes
and experiences of nature are brought together to mutually benefit
one another physiologically, emotionally and spiritually--a home and
work environment unlike any other that has existed in the world.
The building is set in the middle of a lake where the lake acts as
a reservoir for fresh water to cool the building. The periphery of
the building contains 144 elevators with a vertically stacked train
system that stops at 30 floors simultaneously. Vertical propulsion
is through compressed air. A new concept in electrical power, Atmospheric
Energy Conversion, will be tried. This system utilizes the differences
in atmospheric pressure, from the base of the building to it's top,
and converts this differential to electrical power. Cooling is based
on the African termite nest model where the bottom spaces are cooled
with water, in this case waterfalls, the cool air rises and is warmed
by bodily activity in the upper floors and exits through different
levels of the building. Simultaneously all floors have specially designed
windows with aerodynamic wind cowls, so that windows can be opened
without having to resist tremendous wind forces. These cowls direct
air throughout the interior spaces and act as natural air-conditioners.
A series of reflecting mirrors bring direct sunlight into the interior
of the building, so that yards and garden areas are exposed to the
sun without the danger of high wind velocities. Tsui Design and Research,
Inc., is working on a system of water movement from the base to the
top of the building, which is based upon the principle of transpiration
and cohesion(as found in tall trees) by producing water pressure at
the lower levels. By creating water potential, that is, when a wet
and a dry place are joined by a tube of water, the water flows towards
the dry area, water can be directed upwards over great distances.
The challenge of a very tall building is the transportation of materials
from the bottom to top and the maintenance of even levels of temperature,
humidity and air pressure. The tree, being nature's tallest example
of a living organism, provides the working model for a tall building.
The immense surface area of the building, sheathed with photovoltaic
solar cells, provides most of the electrical energy requirements.
This power source combined with Atmospheric Energy Conversion and
windmill power supplies more than enough power to fulfill the energy
requirements of the building. All windows in the building are operable
so there is no pressurized, forced-air system used internally. Manually
operated windows makes temperature control simple and easy to manipulate.
All spaces would have a healthy feeling of cross-circulation and the
higher floors have more thinner air than the lower floors--just as
it is naturally. Persons who wish to work and live in a higher sea
level environment can now do so within the building.
The south-facing side of the building has a strong emphasis on open
garden balconies and expansive park areas. At the forest levels biological
technology plants use sunlight to break down human waste and compost
for recycling back into the soil. The building is like a great expanse
of natural land turned upward with ten large forest, lake and stream
sanctuaries brought up into the sky.
The tower is surrounded on all sides by a lake. Sandy beaches, stone
cliffs, water inlets, grass, trees and rocky islands create a beautiful
and majestic setting. Two six-lane bridges carry vehicles to the underground
parking with its 20 levels of parking. No internal combustion vehicles
can operate on the immediate site of the building. Only electric cars,
propane and hydrogen gas vehicles and bicycles can be used by its
one million inhabitants. A large marina surrounds the building on
the east and west sides. Pedestrian walkways and running/bicycling
paths abound through hills and dales, grassy knolls, forests and fields.
Beaches are easily accessible from any area and small pedestrian bridgeways
connect the main building island with smaller islands and the mainland.
Persons can hike 11/2 to 2 miles from the building to the mainland.
A four-lane roadway surrounds the lake making spectacular opportunities
to view the building from the lake's edge.
All residential neighborhoods are located at the outer and inner edge
of the building closest to views panoramic views and/or sunlight.
The square footage between the neighborhood zones are reserved for
retail or commercial use depending upon location. Internal taxi cab
vehicles carry persons from one end of a floor to the other end at
the larger diameter lower floor levels. Taxi drivers would be paid
by the home and business owners association so that drivers are residents
of the building who earn a livelihood from working there.
The shape of the building makes it virtually impossible to be uprooted
or structurally disturbed by any kind of calamity. The buildings structure
can be thought of as a giant stainless steel net stretched and anchored
over a central high-strength concrete hollow core with a double helix
configuration. Thus the entire building is in constant tension able
to produce an equilibrium of stress and strain forces coming from
any direction. Even in a tornado or hurricane the building cannot
buckle or become dislodged because of its inherent strength and ability
to dissipate pushing and pulling forces. Add to this its superior
aerodynamic qualities of wind deflection(compound surfaces in two
planes) and you are presented with a building that, for its weight
and size, is virtually indestructible. Using this tension cable system
the size of the cables and surface sheathing can remain constant--unlike
a typical tall building where the ground level thickness of the walls
must be big and heavy.