4 Insane Urban Designs That Might Shape The Skylines Of The Future

From a downtown built to survive underwater to a skyscraper covered in tiny hairs, here are some of the most out-there ideas for what cities might look like in the coming decades.


In the future, there will be more buildings that cope with flooding, that cater to retirees, and that generate their own energy and food. The four concepts below are from this year’s World Architecture Festival Awards (“Future Projects – Experimental” category). See the full list of contenders here.


2050 Ultra Flood Plain

Threatened by flooding, cities may be better off living with water than fighting it. That’s the idea behind this design from Thailand. Instead of setting up flood barriers, it lets water into the city center where it fills up enormous polder reservoirs. The water is then used for growing rice before being filtered, and sent back to a river. Shma, a Bangkok firm, developed the concept.

Drifting Home

Homes for the elderly are like “coffins for the living,” according to Groundwork, a Hong Kong-based firm. Its alternative is “Home-On-The-Drift,” a customized train carriage. “What if this four-square-meter ‘coffin’ suddenly acquires legs and moves? Four square meters is approximately a train cabin size. What if the home moves with the person and eventually settles down in their utopia?” The train would leave Hong Kong and travel north into China, stopping at places with decent health care. (The designers don’t say if it would come back.)


This building concept from Sweden is covered with “thin straws” that wave in the wind, producing piezoelectricity. It’s from Belatchew Arkitekter. “The result is a new kind of wind power plant that opens up possibilities of how buildings can produce energy,” the firm says. “With the help of this technique surfaces on both old and new buildings can be transformed into energy producing entities.”

Aero City Towers

Designed for the Lagos skyline, this four-sided building incorporates offices, apartments, a convention center, and a vertical farm (of course). Inspired by braids of hair, the towers are clad with a woven layer of bamboo. Power comes from a “wave energy production marina” and a vertical solar array.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.