Runway In The Sky Lands Planes Downtown

For those of us who hate heights and fear flying, the GreenGru Airportscraper concept is the sort of white-knuckle nightmare that takes 10 years off a lifespan. For the rest, all the way down the fear scale from bungee jumpers and mountain climbers to those who ride mega-roller coasters to get their blood going, this 380 meter (1,246 feet) tall runway—by Greek designer Gerasimos Pavlidis—provides a view to die for (though hopefully not in the real world).

Receiving Honorable Mention in eVolo’s 2012 Skyscraper Competition, this skyscraper-tall airplane runway is aimed at providing convenience for those who live in cities where the airport is distant from the metropolitan center, or where traffic congestion makes it almost impossible to be on time for anything, let alone a flight that might require showing up an hour early.

GreenGru Airportscraper

image via Gerasimos Pavlidis/eVolo

The name, GreenGru, helps explain the skyscraper/runway’s functions. Gru is Italian name for a tower crane, which is what this unique skyscraper looks like. The green portion refers to a photosynthesis-like process inside the shell that separates water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen, the former used to generate energy. The outside of the building is clad with flexible, polymer-based solar cells. The building also incorporates a turbine that spins around the building for even more power.

The tower’s mast is made of carbon-reinforced steel. The building’s surface uses graphite, 10 times stronger than steel yet six times lighter. Over this, a layer of carbon dioxide-absorbing polymer called zeolight takes up excess CO2 during the night, and releases it when the sun shines, making the building’s façade an ideal medium for growing. Lastly, the top of this skyscraper/runway is an inner-city airport which uses fully automated, hybrid hydrogen-electric aircraft as commuter planes. Planes not in use are stored inside the buildings shell and raised to runway level via an elevator.


  • Reply March 30, 2012

    Henry Dickerson

    Two comments: Brilliant, and not a chance in hell would I ever take advantage of this concept except in case of emergency.

  • Reply April 3, 2012

    Luke Waggoner

    The FAA will never let it happen. Maybe other countries, but America? Nope.

    1. How are you going to put lights around the runway? Lead-in lights, PAPI, etc.
    2. One plane that comes in too fast, and it’s bye-bye plane, people in the plane, and a bunch more on the ground when it hits.
    3. Are you asking for a terrorist attack?
    4. Depending on the city, what about snow on the runway? Are you just gonna push it off the side? And the weight of the snow as well. 
    5. Heard of balance?
    6. The wings of the planes landing will have to be pretty small to fit between the supports at the middle of the runway.
    7. What’s wrong with helicopters? Can’t be any more expensive than this crazy idea…

    Or in other words, thanks but no thanks.

  • Reply April 5, 2012


    This is the kind of innovative thinking that gives countries something to be proud of!  We should support this type of thinking that challenges the status quo and inspires greatness.   

  • Reply April 5, 2012

    Rogers Faden

    They already did this at the World Trade Center in NY.

    • Reply April 23, 2012


      That was f’ed up Roger. Funny as hell, but F’ed up. You just made me feel dirty. 🙂 

  • Reply April 5, 2012

    Rogers Faden

    They already did this at the World Trade Center in NY.

  • Reply April 5, 2012


    Maybe if the runway was on top of the building and it always weather veined into the wind….  But you’d need a LOT of real estate all around the actual runway in case of mishaps.  And Ya, what IF a plane falls off???  And how would you taxi up there in all the wind?  Also, the visual aspect of landing on a runway that high above a congested city would be a nightmare, and forget it at night.  I see it’s depicted in Chicago, politics would never allow any airport downtown there, heck they ripped up a perfectly good one for no reason!  And yes snow and ice would be a real problem unless they heated the entire surface….  Looks neat though~

    • Reply April 6, 2012


      The runway does weather vein into the wind, automatically.    If an airplane falls off?    Are you kidding me?    It will pick up airspeed and fly.    The airstrip is designed for hybrid hydrogen-electric powered aircraft, which are stored in the structure.      I think it’s a great “outside of the box” idea.     Really, how many times do you have a mishap and run off the runway?   If so, you would power up and fly.    It is a crazy idea to land an airplane “In the air,” but would be an adventure.    I would definitely try it.    

    • Reply April 6, 2012


      Yeah, former Mayor Daley would have dug giant Xs across the runway, shut it down and then turned it into a park for his wife.  Below is a photo of what he did to Meigs Field which was in downtown Chicago.

  • Reply April 5, 2012

    Walter Harder

    I for one am thrilled to see this kind of out of the box thinking, let me remind all the skeptics that just a little more then a century ago it was thought to be insane to believe that a heavier then air vehicle would ever get into the air.

  • Reply April 6, 2012

    Christian von Delius

    Yah, this is gonna happen…N O T.
    They need to stop letting kindergarteners design stuff, um, I mean DRAW stuff.
    I think they should make the runway much longer so they can land 747’s on it.
    And they should have a lounge, so the designers can sit around and watch the airplanes and smoke more dope.
    PS LOL at the WTC comment

  • Reply April 7, 2012


    An additional “twist” would be to rotate the runway according to the wind to eliminate crosswinds…

  • Reply April 7, 2012


    One elevator is mentioned, however for efficiency it appears that two are needed, one to lower arrived aircraft on one end of the runway, and one to raise departing aircraft on the other end, or else aircraft would have to taxi in opposite approach direction which is not good. Two elevators on each end connected by a lower-level taxi-way seems to make more sense.

  • Reply April 8, 2012


    We have HELICOPTERS, for crying out loud.  That land on top of the highest buildings there are.  That can carry quite a few passengers (V22 tilt-wing for example). The concept put forth here is ludicrous.  

  • Reply April 8, 2012


    That would be the coolest airport to see in Indy.
       I hope the airport in the sky becomes true soon so I could i could see it before I die. 

  • Reply April 10, 2012

    Philip Watkins

    Possibly the stupidist idea I’ve seen this year.  April fool?

  • Reply April 11, 2012


    It surprising, the lack of thought put into comments that have been posted.  WTC comments, really?  Engineering has solved 1 -12 of lukes comments. This is a trully inovative and thoughtful use of space, not to mention aesteticly pleasing.

  • Reply April 11, 2012


    excuse me, astheticly**

  • Reply April 15, 2012


    That’as Chicago. Float it in lake michigan

  • Reply April 16, 2012


    Sounds like a good way to revive the “Disaster Movie” genre.

  • Reply May 11, 2012

    Chris G

    I’m thinking, NOT! I love the fact that someone has put thought into this and has designed something cool “looking,” but for true operation, no. Safety being the biggest factor in this, this fails from the start. We already have enough runway incidents while airports are on the ground, much less for something that would be subject to worse winds “at altitude.” I fear this would also bring out the “novelty” pilot who would just want to say he was there and attract too much attention, thereby attracting trouble for those who couldn’t handle the vagaries of such a landing/take-off “feat.”
    There is a new invention called a helicopter which works much more simply and should be able to land more easily on most buildings around all cities when they perfect it as the years progress…

  • Reply May 15, 2012

    Todd M

    As a private pilot qualified to fly a small, 4-seater Cesena, I feel extremely nervous about the high winds at such an elevation. The runway MUST swing into the direction of the wind, because with more than a 15 MPH crosswind, I don’t have enough rudder to stay on the runway. They also MUST have de-icing abilities both for the runway and for airplanes taxiing for takeoff.
    That being said, I like the idea of having an extra thousand feet at the end of the runway in case something goes wrong. So many airplane crashes are near the airport – a stall before the runway, a stall after takeoff, rolling past the end of the runway… in this case, if you need more room, just fly off the side of the runway or power on over the end of the runway and head to your alternate landing site.
    The only problem remaining is those aircraft that have a problem after takeoff, can’t regain their altitude, and have to fly between the buildings to find a landing site. The FAA requires that airplanes fly 1000 feet away from congested areas. Missing that landing would violate those minimums, and if you can’t recover your altitude, you are flying between buildings, shooting for an emergency roadway landing. The first time venturi-like winds slam a cessena into the side of an office building and the wreckage is scattered in the street below, this airport in the sky will be shut down.
    Neat idea, but impractical.

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