Following the expulsion of the so-called Islamic State in the area, Vincent Callebaut Architectures has unveiled a blue-sky proposal to regenerate the war-torn city of Mosul, Iraq, using high-tech 3D-printing technology involving spider-like robots and drones. Callebaut envisions rebuilding five major bridges destroyed during the fighting and installing urban farms and new homes atop, to help feed and house the city's beleaguered residents.

The 5 Farming Bridges proposal was designed for the Rifat Chadirji Prize for Architecture, an Iraqi competition, and came third place. The competition's aim appears to be promoting ideas and raising awareness of Iraq's housing challenges, rather than actually building the plans. Either way you're best considering this one as food-for-thought.

The proposal involves recycling rubble from the ruins of Mosul's wartime destruction into building material using specialist recycling centers. This material would then be used to 3D-print the city's five major bridges.

Hovering drones would then work in tandem with spider-like 3D-printing robots. The drones would feed the spider robots suitable material to construct over 50,000 modular homes atop the bridges, stacked in a sort of honeycomb-like shape inspired by Islamic Muqarnas (a type of vault). The bridges would be covered with urban farms and other greenery too, in a bid to guarantee food for their inhabitants and improve the bridges' thermal performance.

"Five 3D printers in the form of articulated spiders will allow the construction of 30 houses per day, or nearly 55,000 housing units in five years spread over the five bridges," says Vincent Callebaut Architectures. "All debris will be transformed into resources. To feed these 3D spider printers, drones will continuously bring them construction materials coming from the districts in ruins; previously crushed and transformed in recycling centers."

This wouldn't be a Callebaut project without some sustainable technology, and on this note, the bridges would also incorporate passive cooling and solar panels, the latter both for heating water and producing electricity. Water from the Tigris river would be used for irrigation, as would greywater recycled from bathrooms and kitchens.

Callebaut's distinctive style of sustainable architecture may seem overly ambitious, but he's surprised us before by getting one of his ideas commissioned into a real building. The Agora Garden Tower is currently under construction in Taipei, Taiwan and looks impressive.

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