The boldest design proposals of 2021: how architects, designers and entrepreneurs envision the future


Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Predictions for the future have not always been entirely accurate.

If the classic novel by science fiction author Philip K. Dick “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” had been prophetic, humanoid robots would now live among us, almost indistinguishable from humans. And if Keanu Reeves’ 1995 film “Johnny Mnemonic” had happened, human couriers could have, by 2021, been able to store gigabytes of sensitive corporate data in brain implants.

So you may wish to take today’s boldest design proposals with a pinch of salt. Indeed, this year has seen architects, designers, and contractors pushing the boundaries of what might one day be possible, including designs for rain-proof skyscrapers and the Android Tesla Bot (maybe Dick’s ideas weren’t that far off, after all).

Speculative to varying degrees, these are some of the more eye-catching visions of the future of 2021.

A sustainable desert city

Billionaire Marc Lore presented this year his vision of Telosa (photo above), a “new city in America” ​​intended to house 5 million people. The 150,000-acre metropolis, built from scratch in the desert, promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a drought-tolerant water supply system. A “city design in 15 minutes” will allow residents to access their workplaces, schools and amenities within a quarter of an hour’s journey from their home.

Now the former Walmart executive only needs $ 400 billion in funding – and a place to build. Planners have yet to announce an exact location, but possible targets include Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona and Texas, according to the project’s official website.

Forest ranger robots

Segev Kaspi

Amid the lingering threat of deforestation around the world, Segev Kaspi, an Israel-based industrial design student, envisioned three self-sufficient rangers named Rikko, Chunk, and Dixon. Known collectively as the Forest Ranger Druids, the droids are said to be designed to support reforestation and sustainable forest management.

The three robots perform different proposed functions: Chunk would thin, prune and mow vegetation; Dixon planted seedlings and cuttings; and Rikko would gather information and provide mapping and monitoring services. Although this is only a concept at the moment, the project offers a “possible solution to an urgent problem”, Kaspi wrote on its website.

A 100% recyclable BMW


With great visions To become “the world’s most sustainable manufacturer in the field of premium personal mobility”, BMW this year unveiled the designs for a four-seater concept car made entirely from recycled materials and 100% recyclable. Dubbed the BMW i Vision Circular, the proposed vehicle will be built using recycled aluminum, steel and plastic, as well as certified bio-based materials.

The manufacturing process will use 3D printing to reduce waste and scrap. And, in line with forward-looking circular design principles, the German automaker has also taken into account the lifespan of the vehicle, which BMW says will be extended through detachable components that can easily be replaced with new ones. .

Without exterior paint, leather or chrome, the concept car looks quite futuristic and could launch in 2040, according to a press release.

A new way to get together outdoors

From. Studio

Inspired by banyan trees and hot air balloons, Ephemeral Station offers a high-tech way for people to congregate safely in harsh environments. In addition to being a “sculptural and iconic element”, like the designers of Of. Studio describe In this case, the proposed freestanding module has a variety of possible uses, ranging from hosting desert camps and events such as music festivals, to the function of temporary accommodation in extreme conditions.

As well as offering sun protection to those congregating below, the cloud-like structure would generate energy via photovoltaic cells while its “legs” tunnel below the surface to collect groundwater for consumption or internal cooling. The ephemeral station is also designed to move and transform with conditions, expand and contract with changes in temperature, to give it the appearance of a living, breathing organism.

Floating mobile homes

Creative Center / Sony Group Corporation

As part of an initiative by imagine life in 2050, Creative Center, Sony’s in-house design group, imagined a series of mobile homes floating in Tokyo Bay. Responding to the threat of sea level rise, the designers envisioned future homes equipped with electrical and hydraulic systems for a new breed of “sea nomads”.

Self-propelled by water jets, each house would be equipped with filters that clean the drinking water as the residence moves through the bay. The structures are fitted with solar panels on their rooftops, while self-contained energy reservoirs would float nearby, attaching to homes in need of additional power.

With separate outer and inner shells to reduce the impact of waves, houses could also connect to each other to form a larger, more stable structure during storms. This is not the first floating community that has been proposed – Bjarke Ingels Group has revealed an ambitious United Nations-based design for “Ville Océanix” in 2019, which could house 10,000 inhabitants.

The tallest wooden building in the world

Anders Berensson Architects

Buildings – and even skyscrapers – constructed of engineered wood are a increasingly common view in cities in Europe and North America. But for Anders Berensson Architects, the Swedish company behind a ‘science fiction’ plan to build the world’s largest all-wood building, the proposed project is less about the possibilities of architecture and more about research. sustainable solutions for the Swedish timber industry. Each year, the industry accounts for 970,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, according to the Skogforsk research institute.

Dubbed the Bank of Norrland, the building is both made of wood and a place to store it: it was designed with room for up to 900 million logs for use in construction or manufacturing. And because trees absorb carbon dioxide throughout their lives, the “bank” also stores emissions trapped in the wood.

The architects say their proposal would provide local farmers with a reliable income while preventing the logs from being burned, turned into biofuel or left to decompose, which would return CO2 to the atmosphere.

The Tesla robot

You’re here

Unveiled By Elon Musk at Tesla AI Day in August, the Tesla Bot is part of the automaker’s drive to take its AI research beyond its fleet of vehicles.

Described as a “general purpose” two-pedal humanoid, the 5-foot-8 robot will weigh 125 pounds and be able to lift 150 pounds. The precise use and timing of completion of the Tesla Bots remains shrouded in mystery, but it is designed to perform “dangerous, repetitive or boring” tasks, with Musk suggesting that the technology could ultimately address future labor shortages. work.

And for those worried about a rise in “Terminator” style machines, Musk assured presentation attendees that robots can only move 5 miles per hour, which means “you can. get away from it and, most likely, overpower it, “he half-joked.

Emergency shelters dropped

Kojevnikova Angelina / Konuralp Senol / Kyungha Kwon

When the London Design Biennale launched a global call for designs to solve problems in an ‘era of crisis’, the Radical Gravity Project came up with a futuristic solution for people displaced by natural disasters, conflict or climate change: emergency shelters that can be dropped in dangerous or hard-to-reach places.

Developed at the Design Research Lab of the Architectural Association in London by students Angelina Kozhevnikova, Konuralp Senol and Kyungha Kwon of Spyropoulos Studio, the proposal envisions an aircraft releasing up to 500 units, known as Gravitons, which form parachutes. in the air. After landing safely, they would in theory automatically inflate into networks of habitable pods designed to collect rainwater and generate energy.

Rainy skyscraper

BPAS Architects

In the grim future envisioned by the South African firm BPAS Architects – where the Sahara desert has grown tenfold and oceans cover more than 80% of the Earth’s surface – water is exceptionally difficult to find. In fact, in this dystopian scenario, the Earth’s surface is so hot that any rain evaporates hundreds of feet before reaching the ground.

The architects’ solution? A water-collecting skyscraper that reaches 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) in the sky and collects moisture before it evaporates. The water is then transported along the skyscraper to underground storage facilities, after which solar-powered pumps transport it to agricultural areas or homes for consumption and sanitation.

Created for the Dezeen design site’s Redesign the World competition, the proposed design is intended to help revitalize natural ecosystems decimated by desertification.


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