Architecture firm reveals crazy plan to attach skyscraper to an asteroid

29 Mar 2017

Illustration of the Analemma Tower under construction. Image: CAO

Saying that something is out of this world is a cliché, but an American architecture firm has revealed plans to build a skyscraper that is exactly that, attaching it to an asteroid.

Building the tallest skyscraper in the world is seen as a source of national pride by certain countries, as evidenced in the Middle East with the Burj Khalifa.

But now, the global economic powerhouse of Dubai may attempt to take things to a whole new level, quite literally.

Recruiting an asteroid

According to detailed plans revealed by New York-based firm Clouds Architecture Office (CAO), Dubai could one day build a gargantuan skyscraper that would actually float in the above skyline.

How would it do this? As it turns out, CAO is looking to outer space as the platform to hang the building from – more specifically, a passing asteroid.

The Analemma Tower would be a Universal Orbital Support System, built in Dubai due to its specialisation in extremely tall buildings – but this would not be its only location.

Once the engineers have sorted out the small problem of trying to get a huge asteroid into orbit over Earth, a high-strength cable would need to be affixed by astronauts, and then lowered to the Earth to be attached to the building.

Although it sounds like an idea thrown together as an April Fool’s Day prank, CAO has revealed detailed schematics showing how the orbital mechanics of such a skyscraper (or ‘Earthscraper’, in this case) would travel across the globe.

The tower would move in a figure-8 form, returning to exactly the same position in the sky each day, with New York City getting the chance to see it slowly travel over the skyscrapers on the ground.

Analemma Tower jump

Illustration of people parachuting from Analemma Tower. Image: CAO

Get ready to jump

If operational, the building would hang 32,000m in the air, where temperatures would reach as low as minus 56 degrees Celsius at the top of the troposphere. CAO is aware that this might prove challenging.

“While researching atmospheric conditions for this project, we realised that there is probably a tangible height limit beyond which people would not tolerate living, due to the extreme conditions,” the company said.

“Then again, astronauts have continually occupied the Space Station for decades, so perhaps it’s not so bad?”

CAO has designed the flying beam to have different sectors for entertainment, residential and commercial offices.

Inspired by Philae

If anyone wants to leave the building, they would need to strap on a parachute and jump out.

While just a concept, the idea was inspired by the actions of the European Space Agency, which famously landed its Philae spacecraft on Comet 67P.

“Harnessing the power of planetary design thinking, it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility,” CAO said.

“If the recent boom in residential towers proves that sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation, then Analemma Tower will command record prices, justifying its high cost of construction.”

Analemma Tower infographic

Image: CAO

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic