The year 2008 marked the first time in history that more than half of the world’s human population live in towns and cities rather than rural areas. The UN predicts that by 2030, this number will swell to almost 5 billion, with urban growth concentrated in African and Asian mega-cities. As cities get bigger, larger, and higher, it will become increasingly hard to maintain any sort of connection with wild, untouched nature. Although urban designers attempt to recreate it, no landscaped park will ever be able to match the feeling of standing in a field untouched by human hands.
Fear of losing our connection with nature compelled Swiss designer Charly Duchosal to imagine a city designed to adapt to nature, rather than forcing things to be the other way around. The result, which envisions life lived inside the Earth, rather than on its surface, recently won an honorable mention in eVolo’s 2012 Skyscraper competition.
The “Mountain City” design allows the Earth to shape the size and location of cities, and thereby preserves the surrounding ecosystem. “I like to envision a city that is set in a wild landscape, digged in rock to preserve the development of nature around it, and where all the spaces needing natural light will benefit from a constant visual connection to the surrounding site,” writes Duchosal.
A geothermal plant is the logical solution to provide energy to this embedded city, meaning that it would need to be located in a geographic zone with high geothermal gradients – active tectonic and volcanic areas – like Iceland.