Carlo Ratti's mile-high park in the sky would be world's tallest building

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On top of the world at The Mile observation tower

On top of the world at The Mile observation tower. View gallery (8 images)

If Carlo Ratti's newly-announced observation tower comes to fruition (and it's a big "if"), it will be as much a sight to behold as the views it provides. The proposed structure is a mile high, which would make it not only the tallest observation tower in the world, but also the world's tallest building by some distance.

Aptly named, The Mile would reach 1,609 m (5,279 ft) into the sky, or one mile exactly. To put that into perspective, the world's current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is just over half that height, at 830 m (2,723 ft). Even the Jeddah Tower, which is under construction and due to be completed in 2018, will only stretch to 1,000 m (3,281 ft), making it the world's first kilometer-high building.

Consequently, it is only reasonable to view The Mile with a degree of skepticism. Even if it's a legitimate proposal, so many things can derail projects of such cinematic ambition that they can easily end up on the cutting room floor. But a legitimate proposal is exactly what Carlo Ratti Associati assures Gizmag this is. "The Mile is a real project, with a client, although it is only in the first phase now," we are told.

Developed in partnership with German engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann und Partner and British digital design studio Atmos, The Mile will be a vertical park and publicly accessible observation deck. Visitors will ascend to the top in "sculptural capsules" that orbit the shaft of the tower. Once there, there will be a viewing deck, a "sky walkway" and a restaurant.

The capsules will be able to host meetings, dinners and concerts, and even, we are told, be home to pools. Visitors will be able to digitally interact with the surrounding views via augmented reality screens and experience the panorama in a variety of different ways.

At 20-m (66-ft) wide, the tower shaft will have a height-to-width aspect ratio of around 80:1, considerably larger than that of the British Airways i360 in Brighton, UK, which is currently recognized as the world's most slender tower. An engineering study is said to have been carried out to develop a means of achieving this, with the structure to be kept in compression and secured using a net of pre-stressed cables.

"The structural concept for The Mile is technically feasible because of its consequent and uncompromised lightweight approach," said associate and team leader at Schlaich Bergermann und Partner Boris Reyher. "The architectural form and the spatial equilibrium of forces become one and the same thing."

In addition, it is envisaged that the tower will be covered by plants and greenery from bottom to top, providing a habitat for animals. Carlo Ratti likens the planned result to taking New York's Central Park, standing it on its end, rolling it up and then twisting it.

The client for whom the project is being developed, a planned location and any construction dates remain undisclosed. More information will no doubt be forthcoming when the project is presented at the MIPIM property show on March 16, though, at which point we may get a better idea of its feasibility.

Source: Carlo Ratti Associati

UPDATE (Feb. 25/16): Carlo Ratti Associati tells us the following:

"The project has been developed as a concept for a client, including not only the design, but also advanced feasibility studies from a financial and engineering points of view. We are now dialoguing with a series of further subjects to define an ideal schedule for the realization. We hope we can disclose all the operative details in the next months."

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