Planners have long argued against suburban sprawl for the possible health effects it has on residents who are able to avoid physical exercise from behind the wheel. California Polytechnic State University architecture students Thomas Shorey, Ryan Nevius and Baptiste Roult have approached design as health promoter in a more urban manner: design a city vertically to force physical movement and better health.

Their Sky District plan abandons the typical design of buildings where visitors are distributed to floors via easily accessible elevators, saying that method offers “poor architectural design, consumes finite resources and promotes a lazy way of life.” Instead, they propose, arrange city blocks vertically and offer skip-stop elevators and attractive stairways that reward climbers with impressive city views. Not only does this encourage walking, they say, but it also increases opportunities for public interaction.

Naturally, this healthier environment will offer mass transit, only it will travel up and down instead of from side to side. Also environmentally conscious is the desalinization plant located within the complex, which taps into nearby abundant ocean water for drinking (and then later also recycles the resulting gray water). Thermal windows and passive ventilation building skins help regulate the interior temperatures of the city’s buildings and also lead to energy savings.

With buildings stacked in clusters and complexes connected by bridges, these three students have envisioned a visually exciting way for communities of the future to stay fit.

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