Floating Skyscraper For Tourism

By:  | August - 16 - 2019

Editors’ Choice
2019 Skyscraper Competition

Umut Baykan, Doğuşcan Aladag
United Kingdom

Tourism is a socio-economic phenomenon. It enables people to encounter new experiences all around the world. Contributing significantly to the global economy, it benefits local employment figures whilst providing opportunities for cultural exchange. The number of tourists has risen dramatically since 1950: from 25 million to 1.2 billion in 2017. Movement of so many people at seasonally determined periods of time creates massive demand for accommodation. This demand presents a problem across urban and environmental scales.

For the majority of touristic destinations, demand spikes in certain parts of the year. Traditionally, the model has been to build hospitality facilities such as hotels to meet this demand. As a result, they account for a disproportionate percentage of the built environment. Since these facilities are vacant of people and purpose outside of peak season, they are routinely shut down in order to limit maintenance and resourcing costs. Unfortunately, for settlements that are reinvented as tourist destinations, the impact is significant and detrimental. The local economy becomes fragile, the cultural life is undermined, all to the point whereby towns become more like ghost-towns when the tourist season is over. Profit becomes a higher priority than the conservation of local beauty for developers. This attitude is unsustainable, as the quality of the landscape is often what attracted tourists in the first place.

The solution lies in finding an alternative to simply developing on pristine land and dispersing residents. There is no reason why the natural environment and local communities should not be the principal beneficiaries of tourism. Focusing on finding a better design solution to tourist accommodation, this proposal began by investigating the effects of tourism on Cappadocia – a popular tourist destination in Turkey famous for its unique geological and cultural history. This proposal puts forward a flexible, customizable and temporary form of accommodation. The proposed skyscraper is formed of individual units, supported by helium balloons, that can be modulated according to both to general demand as well as to the specific needs and wants of visitors.

As visitors continue to arrive during the peak season of a given locale, more units can be stacked together to form a cluster. The critical detail about the proposed geometry is that it possesses no final form: it is a geometry that remains endlessly negotiable and adjustable. As visitor traffic continues to ebb and flow, the structure responds by growing and shrinking.

In order for the proposed skyscraper to be optimally modulated the most rational and accommodating structure for it to take is that of a helix. A helical form maximizes the potential flexibility of the geometry. For instance, when considering the potential for vertical and horizontal expansion, both can be accommodated by a helix: vertical via increasing the number of turns, and horizontal through the introduction of offset branches. A helix allows for formal integrity to be retained without limiting the users access to the outside. When assembling as a helix, the units are able to support a connection and continuity in unit surfaces.

The size and form of the helical skyscraper will also serve as a visual indicator as to the level of tourism at any given moment. Once peak season ends and demand drops, the clusters will migrate onwards to benefit another region where peak season is approaching. Therefore, the proposed skyscraper is able to respect the tourist cycle of a particular locale without disabling or devastating the local environment when tourist season ends. By leaving no permanent settlement, the proposed skyscraper can be endlessly reused, readjusted and reacclimated as it migrates throughout the year. The design provides a sustainable solution to tourist accommodation.

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