Architecture

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

Carlo Ratti's mile-high park i...
On top of the world at The Mile observation tower
On top of the world at The Mile observation tower
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On top of the world at The Mile observation tower
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On top of the world at The Mile observation tower
There will be augmented reality screens via which visitors will be able to digitally interact with the surrounding views
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There will be augmented reality screens via which visitors will be able to digitally interact with the surrounding views
At the top, there will be a viewing deck, a "sky walkway" and a restaurant
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At the top, there will be a viewing deck, a "sky walkway" and a restaurant
The Mile is said to be feasible due to its lightweight design
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The Mile is said to be feasible due to its lightweight design
In order to achieve the height of the structure, it will be kept compressed and secured through a net of pre-stressed cables
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In order to achieve the height of the structure, it will be kept compressed and secured through a net of pre-stressed cables
The tower will be covered by plants and greenery from bottom to top, providing a habitat for plants and animals
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The tower will be covered by plants and greenery from bottom to top, providing a habitat for plants and animals
The capsules will be able to host meetings, dinners and concerts
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The capsules will be able to host meetings, dinners and concerts
At 20-m (66-ft) wide, the tower will have a height-to-width aspect ratio of around 80:1
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At 20-m (66-ft) wide, the tower will have a height-to-width aspect ratio of around 80:1

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 Mile is said to be feasible due to its lightweight design
The Mile is said to be feasible due to its lightweight design

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."

9 comments
TomHolzel
Frank Lloyd Wright described a mile-high skyscraper over 50 years ago. But it was decided that materials strength was too low to make practical usable space.
Daishi
First: "The structural concept for The Mile is technically feasible because of its consequent and uncompromised lightweight approach" and then "In addition, it is envisaged that the tower will be covered by plants and greenery from bottom to top" These statements seem conflicting to me. Just creating a structure 2x taller than the next largest seems like a pretty big challenge but adding trees and other vegetation to the building seems like taking on additional structural risk. It will be an impressive benchmark if they can achieve it but I can't see myself braving the glass floor at the top of that observation tower any time soon and I've jumped out of planes. I'm sure there are people brave enough to go out on that thing but I'm not one of them.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Twenty miles is the doubling length of s-glass. This can be used as a bench mark.
Sir Cumference
5279 feet is a foot short of a mile. So close...
Ritchard Mckie
Where would this be built?
Mel Tisdale
It will be interesting to see what happens to property prices within a mile radius when its location is finally announced!
Tall strutures may be suited to be designed for power generation as solar updraft towers. I have always thought such towers ideal for dense urban centres that struggle with air quality resulting from inversions (eg Mexico City) as these towers would improve air movement. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower The solar updraft tower (SUT) is a renewable-energy power plant for generating electricity from solar power. Sunshine heats the air beneath a very wide greenhouse-like roofed collector structure surrounding the central base of a very tall chimney tower. The resulting convection causes a hot air updraft in the tower by the chimney effect. This airflow drives wind turbines placed in the chimney updraft or around the chimney base to produce electricity.
Bob Flint
"Sir Cumference" They may have calculated the height in a cold state, as steel will expand about a foot over that mile. Perhaps they should aim for 5281 feet, and take into account the shrinkage factor, or maybe even a bit more for ground & structure compaction compaction over time. Either way very expensive architecture non the less...
Peter Mac
Pretty amazing if it can be achieved. Adds new meaning to the 'mile high club.'