Architecture

The incredible plan for a 170-km-long skyscraper in the Saudi desert

The incredible plan for a 170-km-long skyscraper in the Saudi desert
The Line would measure a total length of 170 km (105 miles), and be home to 9 million residents if realized
The Line would measure a total length of 170 km (105 miles), and be home to 9 million residents if realized
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The Line would measure a total length of 170 km (105 miles), and be home to 9 million residents if realized
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The Line would measure a total length of 170 km (105 miles), and be home to 9 million residents if realized
The Line would reach a maximum height of 500 m (1,640 ft), but have a total width of just 200 m (656 ft)
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The Line would reach a maximum height of 500 m (1,640 ft), but have a total width of just 200 m (656 ft)
The Line is part of Saudi Arabia's larger Neom project
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The Line is part of Saudi Arabia's larger Neom project
The Line would be home to 9 million people, or roughly the population of New York City
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The Line would be home to 9 million people, or roughly the population of New York City
The Line's interior layout would stack parks and water features
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The Line's interior layout would stack parks and water features
The Line would include viewing points to offer residents views of the desert landscape below
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The Line would include viewing points to offer residents views of the desert landscape below
The Line would be powered by renewable energy sources and would offer a walkable interior that's easy to navigate
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The Line would be powered by renewable energy sources and would offer a walkable interior that's easy to navigate
View gallery - 7 images

Saudi Arabian authorities have revealed plans for an architecture project so ambitious that it almost beggars belief. Named The Line, it would consist of a 170-km (105-mile)-long skyscraper that would serve as home to approximately 9 million people – or roughly the same as the population of New York City.

Putting aside all concerns on feasibility for now, The Line would be part of the larger Neom project and situated in northwest Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea. We've no word on who's responsible for the design, but Dezeen points the finger at Morphosis, which has previous form for producing ambitious and eye-catching building designs.

The building would reach a total height of 500 m (1,640 ft) – which is almost as tall as the tallest building in the US – and would have a width of just 200 m (656 ft). Perhaps it's best to think of it less like a standard skyscraper and more like an even bigger take on Google's landscraper idea – that is, a tower turned on its side. It would sport a mirrored finish, which seems a strange choice in the hot desert sun, but the idea behind it is that it's meant to somehow help this behemoth blend in with its surroundings, though perhaps that's a lost cause. Its huge interior layout, meanwhile, would stack parks, schools and homes atop each other.

The Line would include viewing points to offer residents views of the desert landscape below
The Line would include viewing points to offer residents views of the desert landscape below

"The Line will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of 34 square kilometers [13 sq miles], which is unheard of when compared to other cities of similar capacity," explained the press release. "This in turn will reduce the infrastructure footprint and create never-before-seen efficiencies in city functions. Its ideal climate all year round will ensure that residents can enjoy surrounding nature when walking around.

"The Line offers a new approach to urban design: The idea of layering city functions vertically while giving people the possibility of moving seamlessly in three dimensions (up, down or across) to access them is a concept referred to as Zero Gravity Urbanism. Different from just tall buildings, this concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work, so that one can move effortlessly to reach all daily needs within five minutes."

As if all that wasn't ambitious enough, it would also run on 100% renewable energy too. We'd assume this means solar panels, given the abundance of sunshine in the area, though the renewable energy source hasn't been detailed at this stage. Additionally, renders depict some greenery on its rooftop.

The Line would reach a maximum height of 500 m (1,640 ft), but have a total width of just 200 m (656 ft)
The Line would reach a maximum height of 500 m (1,640 ft), but have a total width of just 200 m (656 ft)

The Line was unveiled by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and no construction date or expected completion date has been announced. Indeed, given the size of complexity of such an undertaking, it would be more than fair to be a little skeptical about it ever being realized, even just the basics like transporting enough building materials and pouring the foundations seems like it would be a considerable undertaking.

But if anyone could make it happen it’s someone with the deep pockets and capability of the Saudi Crown Prince, who with an eye to a fossil fuel-free future is very keen to transform his country’s oil-dependent economy into a tourist-friendly one. With this in mind he has already unveiled a slew of ambitious projects including BIG's so-called Giga Project.

Source: Neom

View gallery - 7 images
16 comments
16 comments
guzmanchinky
And soon it will be too hot for humans to live in those parts of the world...
ScienceFan
The east west orientation and reflective finish on vertical surfaces will turn the area south of this structure into a lethal desert with temperatures of 50-70C . They would have to reflect the sun light upwards which will be fun for any birds and airplanes. If it was perpendicular to prevailing winds they could perhaps influence the local climate a bit more.
NMBill
Science fiction. Fun concept but pure fantasy. It's not at all clear why this is the ideal configuration. Wouldn't a big circular structure make more sense?
josefaber
" ... new approach to urban design..."
Hardly. This concept has been a mainstay in many science fiction novels.

Check any of several sites for wind conditions in that area.
The topography makes for interesting wind patterns.
A construction as described might shape the prevailing winds.
Hasler
Utterly ridiculous! Just like yesterday's shopping malls, there will be simultaneous obsolesce of the structure - and the services, but for 9 million people. A maintenance nightmare. This is really 'warehousing for the poor'.
paulm
If the Byker Wall did sci-fi....
TpPa
I'd bet that it would end up being laid out like a big city, certain ethnic groups sticking together, gangs competing for turf, with easy disposal over the edge. It would also suck the red sea dry with desalinization plants for that many people.
EH
If it has high ceilings, 5 m, making it just 100 stories tall, that's 36 billion square feet,3.4 billion sq. m, 840,000 acres, or 1312 sq. miles of floor space. If they are more frugal than Saudi princes are known for being, they could possibly build it for under $5 trillion. Maybe they should try out the idea with the first kilometer or two and see if it's at all livable. There are better uses for ~$50B, though.
CarolynFarstrider
Where does all the water come from?
freddotu
Square it up and you'll have Todos Santos, from "Oath of Fealty" by Niven and Pournelle, 1981
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Fealty_%28novel%29
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