Another pie-in-the-sky, or is this our future?

One of the advant-ages of designers implementing their building projects in the Middle East is that they can come up with anything and investors, who demonstrate enough faith to hand over boatloads of cash, can make their vision become a reality.
Another pie-in-the-sky, or is this our future?
By Rob Wagner
Sat 25 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

One of the advant-ages of designers implementing their building projects in the Middle East is that they can come up with anything and investors, who demonstrate enough faith to hand over boatloads of cash, can make their vision become a reality.

It's true that I have been critical of designers who fly into the UAE with some cockamamie project that wouldn't get past the receptionist in any developer's office in other parts of the world.

I still have my doubts about rotating towers, but that's just my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

But every once in a while, something comes along that sparks the imagination. And you just know that someone with a vision and a spot of courage can really transform a community into something that is truly unique and sustainable.

Ben Millington, Construction Week's Bahrain editor, reports on a project that will undoubtedly raise the bar in developing sustainable communities if successful.

He writes of Timelinks' designers, who have come up with the Ziggurats project, a "green" self-sufficient mega-structure that can provide living and working space for up to one million people in a dozen separate buildings in the shape of a pyramid.

There's a surreal, sci-fi feeling to the project that reminds me of sustainable pods one would see in a movie space lab. And while I am all for a warm and cosy home or villa with all the accompanying architectural flourishes one expects in a domicile, the folks at Timelinks have designed a community that has its own character and flourishes.

This so-called new age pyramid-city would consist of apartments with individual gardens, schools, retail shops, medical centres and entertainment venues and a public transportation system.

The attraction, however, to those environmentally-minded is the fact that this city is designed to use the minimum amount of land and 50% less infrastructure.

Electricity is generated through a water supply system and greenhouses are built into every building to produce the city's own fruit and vegetables.

We've seen pie-in-the-sky projects before in this region, and perhaps this project could very well find itself in the dust bin. But the key to success is using simple technology to create a community. And this is a project using existing technology of nothing more than concrete, steel and glass to make it real.

In the late 1960s, for those old enough to remember, we marvelled at the hand-held communication devices on the original "Star Trek" TV series or the video billboards in "Blade Runner" from the early 1980s.

Now video billboards are standard features in any urban area and the hand-held communication device has become the mobile phone. The next step in our evolution of sustainable living is to consider that that community inside a movie space lab is about to become a reality.

Let's wait and see what Timelinks can do. My guess is the right investor will help them create the next best thing to the mobile phone. They could very well revolutionise a new way of living, especially in harsh environments such as the Middle East.

Rob Wagner is the editor of Construction Week.

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