Are Underground Skyscrapers the Future of Cities?


1312422185-model-01-528x352By: Amanda Froelich,

True Activist.

Mexico City has plans for a potential underground 65-story inverted pyramid known as the “Earthscraper”. Instead of reaching for the sky, the building would burrow over 1,000 feet into the Earth underneath Mexico City’s main square, the Zocalo.

While the idea of taking an elevator 40 floors into the ground may not sound like an appealing way to start the day, it can be much better than it seems, insists Esteban Suarez of BNKR Arquitectura, who imagined this plan.

In the eyes of the designer, the Zocalo plaza would be covered with glass that would serve as the building’s ceiling. In the center of the Earthscraper, space would be left to allow natural light and ventilation to flow through each floor. And every ten floors, there would be an “Earth Lobby” host to plant beds and vertical gardens which would help filter air down there.

The historic center of Mexico City is in desperate need of a programmatic make-over.  New infrastructure is required but no empty plots are available.  Federal and local laws prohibit demolishing historic and height regulations limit new structures to eight stories.  (source)



Suarez envisions the first ten floors nearest the surface as a museum, with the next 10 down reserved for condos and shops. Finally, the last 35 floor would be designed as office space.

This particular concept faces a lot of challenges: the estimated cost is $800 million, and plenty of skeptics think that it will never be made manifest. But urban designers are keeping an eye on this plan to see if it is the project that will move cities in a whole new direction.

Alternative solutions to house and plan for the inevitable growth of the population are desperately needed. With the increasing debut of useful technologies, heightened communication, and the collaboration of brilliant inventors, sustainable models to house a larger population and crea;te a greener Earth are likely to be made more present in the future.



Smithsonian Magazine

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