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Zero Cargo Footprint

Part 2 Project 2011
Anurag Gautam
London South Bank University, UK
Mies’ dream for a Timber Framed Skyscraper at Friedrichstrasse in 1921 can finally be realized today through a new cargo transportation and construction system based on airships. Airships used in this way to construct Tall Timber Towers could revolutionize the way we design and construct our cities.

Cities are the symbol of economic wealth and notorious for being built with high embodied energy materials such as concrete. Modern construction methods are inefficient, time consuming and they congest our road networks. For the 20th Century Skyscrapers became the symbol of economic boom after the world became scarred by two world wars.

Today we face an environmental and economic crisis and we must revise our understanding of how to construct our tall urban icons. 21st century towers could be made from a new revolutionary timber based technology that mimics concrete: Solid engineered timber. Its’ financial and environmental properties could make it a symbol for 21st century construction.

Burning fuel for transportation is a major factor for global carbon emissions. There’s a fundamental problem with articulated Lorries congesting London’s narrow road networks. By avoiding traffic on the ground, cargo can be delivered efficiently using the airships which require a fraction of the fuel of Lorries.

Extracting Hydrogen from methane from the sewage plant at Crossness to use as lifting gas will fuel the airships through a natural untapped wasted energy source. Airships used as transportation vehicles and as cranes challenge the inefficient modern construction methods that have shaped our cities and fuelled global economy over the last century.

We live in a world composed from independent and combined systems. Architecture and urbanism are the products of these systems. These systems can be based on pure technology, societal concerns or even history. Only when these systems are challenged do we witness innovation in architectural, spatial and structural composition. My project was born from this approach. The proposed airship hangers with the timber tower construction program is the legacy of a new transportation and construction system that will revive the lost legacy of Mies Van Der Rohe and revolutionize how we compose and define architecture.

Anurag Gautam


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