Floating Elysium

By:  | May - 8 - 2023

Honorable Mention
2023 Skyscraper Competition

Jiekai Wu, Zhihao Lu, Wenrui Yang, Jixiang Cai, Haozhe Zhang, Lijun Jin

On February 24, 2022, the Russian military attacked Ukraine, and the ongoing conflict between the two countries officially turned into a full-scale war, which quickly evolved into one of the largest wars in post-World War II Europe. By the end of 2022, the war had killed at least 146,748 people and created the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, with at least 12 million people fleeing their homes, including more than 5 million to neighboring countries and another 7.1 million displaced within Ukraine. The massive influx of refugees has also created economic and political problems for neighboring countries.

The losses from the war were also reflected in the agricultural sector. As the war rages on, Ukraine’s spring sowing area has been reduced by more than half, causing a serious global food crisis that has made the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world extremely vulnerable. Homes were lost, food production was reduced, gas was disrupted, ports were shut down…… The war brought untold havoc to civilians on both sides, to the European region and to people around the world. It’s been a long winter, long and cold.

“If there is freedom anywhere, it lies on a high.” The shelling of the earth in Kiev, the end of the war, and the clearing and rebuilding of the ruins after the war will take years, creating a rather long blank period. Therefore, we focus on how we can enable the Ukrainian people to resume their democratic life more safely during this transitional period, to open up the land for cultivation, to have a new home to live in and to allow civilization to flourish again. We want to create a Floating Elysium for the Ukrainian people.

With the destruction of the original farming and urban land, we centralized the agricultural production units and the residential and commercial building units and organized these units into a monolithic structure by means of suspension cables and structural supports. A large number of hot air balloons on top will lift the building up to the sky. In addition, small units around the constructions can land on the ground to enable the exchange of materials and provide productive resources for post disaster reconstruction as well as the renewal of floating clusters. Floating Elysium is a dynamic, new postwar homeland that complements Kiev city.

A model made of helium-filled balloons, cotton threads and balsa wood chips was used to simulate the development of Floating Elysium. Similar to the formation of cities, there are fewer boards in the initial stage, which are mainly used for residence. As the number of plates and balloons gradually increased, more functions were introduced. Some isolated land plots have been combined into urban agglomerations and have played a more integrated role. In the end, the complete system is basically formed, and some balloons can be detached from the system for supply.

“Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues.”

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