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Design Concepts: Cities of Tomorrow

The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money, or technology, many of those products never progress from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over them, nevertheless.

Barring a nuclear holocaust (which, if you're interested, we've got concepts regarding, too), the world's massive cities aren't going to disappear anytime soon. And while we wax optimistic about colonizing the Moon within our lifetimes, Earth's population continues to grow unabated. Metropolises are expanding outward instead of upward to accommodate the rise in residents, and we (along with some of the architects highlighted below) think that's just plain silly. We're going to run out of ground sooner or later, so how else can we fit our bursting populations into buildings that are ecological, sustainable and forward-thinking? Check out some of our favorite recent concepts that set out to scrape the sky.

Ecomobi Modular Housing System by Mobius Architects

Ecomobi Modular Housing System by Mobius
Polish architecture firm Mobius won first prize for this concept at Prefab 20*20, a competition that asks architects to submit free-standing, prefabricated housing concepts with a footprint of no more than 400 square feet. With open real estate scarce in metropolises like New York, Mobius decided to look at an under-utilized plane for its Ecomobi units: the rooftops of existing buildings. Ecomobi is a highly utilitarian, compact living space that includes living, dining, bathing, sleeping and working areas to accommodate two people. We love this concept as it draws on a growing trend in architectural thinking -- parasitic housing that takes advantage of pre-existing structures.

Capture the Rain by Ryszard Rychlicki and Agnieszka Nowak

Capture the Rain concept
Looking not unlike the arcologies of 'Sim City 2000,' this rain-collecting skyscraper is a combination of living space and ecological conservation unit. The roof of the building is essentially a giant funnel for collecting raindrops, while the façade is composed of gutters that capture the rest of the water dripping down the sides. The building incorporates its own treatment and filtration system using reeds, so that the building's occupants can immediately take advantage of the water collected and offset their use of the city's mains.

Al Jadida Agropolis by Marjan Colleti

Al Jadida Agropolis by Marjan Colleti
Egypt may have once been the seat of civilization, but the area around the Nile delta -- including Cairo and Alexandria -- has grown glutted with poorly constructed housing units, encircled by private complexes for the rich along the cities' outskirts. Italian architect Marjan Colleti proposed an entirely new development -- a mix of residential and agricultural units -- called Al Jadida Agropolis. Since, traditionally, Egyptians plant crops in circles, Al Jadida takes advantage of the interstitial wasted space between -- vaguely resembling a downed UFO -- allowing for residential developments that will continue to expand as the agropolis spreads outward.

Double-Stuffed by Richie Gelles and Viktor Ramos

Double-Stuffed by Richie Gelles and Viktor Ramos
Sometimes, in high-density residential environments, you need a gigantic building that looks like it could be a city unto itself. Designed with Hong Kong in mind, Double-Stuffed flips the concept of a standard high-density building (like this), and lifts it -- quite literally -- to great heights. As opposed to distinct commercial and residential zones, the building mixes retail space and amenities (like swimming pools and tennis courts) within the residential spaces, creating hybrid units. Oh, and some of those units are propped aloft gargantuan glassy pillars. The void between the top and bottom parts of the building allows for light and new points of access. The public, meanwhile, can explore the roof, which is opened up as a public space.

Everrich 2 Apartments by DWP Architects

Everrich 2 Apartments by DWP Architects
Topping out at over 9 million inhabitants, Ho Chi Minh City is the most populous berg in all of Vietnam. So, like any other dense area, it needs massive buildings shaped like roller coasters. Meet the Everrich 2 Apartments. At only 37 stories, the building manages to squeeze in 3,100 residential units with roughly 1,300 to 2,700 square feet of space each. It aims to be a self-sustaining community with sky gardens and green roofs complementing the natural ventilation encouraged by the design, resulting in a very energy-efficient complex. In the center of the building sits an open area with a park, pool and athletic fields for residents. If we had to get crammed into a massive complex in one of the world's most populous cities, we wouldn't mind these sky gardens one bit.

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