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Earthscraper Takes Sustainable Design Underground

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the moving-on-down dept.

Earth 269

Hugh Pickens writes"The 'Earthscraper,' a 65-story, 82,000-square-foot inverted pyramid beneath Mexico City takes a new approach to escalating megacity problems like population growth, urban sprawl, preserving open space, and conserving energy and water, promising to turn the modern high-rise, quite literally, on its head. The proposed building will be located at the Zocalo, Mexico City's major public plaza one of the few sizable open spaces left in the city of 9 million. 'It's a massive empty plot, which makes it the ideal site for our program,' says architect Esteban Suarez. The Earthscraper concept begins with a glass roof replacing the opaque stone surface of the Zocalo preserving the open space and civic uses of the Zocalo, while allowing natural lighting to flow downward into all floors of the tapering structure through clear or translucent core walls. The first 10 stories would hold a museum dedicated to the city's history and its artifacts. 'We'd almost certainly find plenty of interesting relics during the dig — dating right back to the Aztecs who built their own pyramids here,' says Suarez adding that the design incorporates a system of gardens occurring roughly every 10 stories, to help generate fresh air. One thing working in Earthscraper's favor is there are strict laws that prevent building upwards in this part of Mexico City, but no laws for building down. 'They will have to develop new laws to stop this from happening,' says Chief Design Officer Emilio Barja. 'I hope they don't [find the] time to do that.'"

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Question: (5, Insightful)

markbark (174009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190730)

While inverted pyramids are an interesting design, what're you gonna do with the million cubic feet of dirt from the hole you have to dig to build the damn thing?

Re:Question: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190794)

Why, you use it to build an inverted-inverted pyramid outside the city somewhere.

Re:Question: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190802)

You could for example dump it in the ocean to create more land.

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190812)

Build upwards, of course!

Re:Question: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190816)

While inverted pyramids are an interesting design, what're you gonna do with the million cubic feet of dirt from the hole you have to dig to build the damn thing?

Lake Texcoco [wikipedia.org] might have some effect on that.

Re:Question: (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190828)

I'm no civil engineer but AFAIK it usually is a lot more expensive to build down than to build up.

Try digging a 1 cubic metre hole in the ground. Now try to build a 1 cubic metre structure above the ground. Which is easier?

If it were cheaper, they'd do it more often - there are advantages - thermal insulation etc (and even then it's easier to build something low and pile earth over it, than dig).

Re:Question: (4, Insightful)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190930)

World's tallest building: 830 m
World's deepest mine: 3900 m

Re:Question: (4, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191356)

What's the number of livable spaces for each of those?

Re:Question: (3, Insightful)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191436)

There's probably a big difference between "building livable spaces" and "digging mine shafts". Drainage and moisture control will be a huge challenge. And you'll need active ventilation (can't just open a window and let the wind do it), the cost of which would offset your heating/cooling savings.

Re:Question: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190982)

Obviously it's more expensive and difficult to build down than up, but if you haven't noticed, there is a finite amount of land to build up on. In major urban centers, there's little to no land left, so we wind up with increasing urban sprawl, which has it's own pile of issues. That being said, out of all the problems of building underground rather than above, getting rid of the dirt you dug up is definitely the least of them.

Re:Question: (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191078)

Obviously it's more expensive and difficult to build down than up, but if you haven't noticed, there is a finite amount of land to build up on.

Whereas there's an infinite amount of land to build down on?

Re:Question: (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191432)

No, but there is more immediately available, as it's a design technique that has been less utilized.

Re:Question: (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191050)

It is cheaper to build the first few stories up than down. But at some point, the cost of holding up more and more floors, structural integrity issues, wind issues, etc come into play. May be even visibility to terrorists for insurance purposes. Building down, the only cost is earth removal and dumping it somewhere. But the earth starts getting hotter, and ventilation, fire escape etc get complicated.

Re:Question: (3, Interesting)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191164)

And its not like a terrorists could cave in an underground structure or anything >_

Re:Question: (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191374)

When you have large, dense populations and the need to put them somewhere, that's kind of an inherent problem no matter what you do.

Re:Question: (1)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191280)

It is cheaper to build the first few stories up than down. But at some point, the cost of holding up more and more floors, structural integrity issues, wind issues, etc come into play. May be even visibility to terrorists for insurance purposes. Building down, the only cost is earth removal and dumping it somewhere. But the earth starts getting hotter, and ventilation, fire escape etc get complicated.

In the article it also talked about the problems with how wet the soil is in this area. So they would need to find a way to get the water (plumbing/pumping/etc) issues worked out. It also mentioned that this design would work better in a more arid environment because of the these issues.

Re:Question: (3, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191290)

Building down, the only cost is earth removal and dumping it somewhere.

You're forgetting the water table.

In a sufficiently large, arcology-type underground community, the water's useful and valuable. But you'll probably have to keep pumps running all the time if you don't want to drown or be smothered in mold and algae. Mines that don't pump, flood.

You're forgetting the water table. (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191420)

No shit, Sherman. Mexico City is built in a silted-up lakebed. What's more, their sewage processing ... shall we say, leaves a bit to be desired.

So -- how do they plan emergency evacuation of this thing if the pumps fail? Maybe during an earthquake? (Not like Mexico City has those, mind.)

Re:Question: (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191376)

I expect the biggest risk to building down, especially in Mexico city is earthquakes. I'm not sure it helps a building or occupant's survivability to be underground and surrounded by soil which would liquify and do its utmost to squash the build like a bug if / when Mexico gets its next magnitude 8 quake. At least when the building goes upwards the foundation is likely to be solid concrete and the entire building resting on enormous shock absorbers.

Re:Question: (2)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191524)

add:

Massive retaining wall costs.
Massive sump pump design and maintenance costs.
Massive heat dissipation costs.
Massive CO2 dissipation costs.
Massive moisture intrusion and mitigation.

Also how do you address

upthrust from ground water
ventilation on that scale is ridiculous
100 year flood planning ( you think the titanic scene was bad)

Re:Question: (5, Funny)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191004)

Dig another hole to put the dirt in.

Re:Question: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191228)

Have you considered running for office?

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191084)

Build artificial islands of course! Dubai is ahead of the times as always.

Re:Question: (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191504)

Mexico City is an artificial island (in the Lake Texcoco).

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191086)

even more important: how much are you going to spend for removing the sewage from the bottom floors?

Re:Question: (2)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191380)

Why remove it? Treat it on the bottom floors and pump the clean water back to the top.

Re:Question: (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191112)

I was kinda thinking "giant swimming pool." How far above sea level is that area?

Either way, this is just another pyramid scheme isn't it?

Re:Question: (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191528)

Enough. About 6500 ft.

lol (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190736)

This is an awful idea. Can't wait until it's finished and there are huge problems with water leaking in, with all the fun stuff that entails.

Re:lol (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191036)

Don't forget they have major earthquakes here.
I remember the last one, it caused far more damage than it should have because the earthquake 'waves' were bouncing off a 'wall' at the edge of the city and there was a ripple-effect. In one spot two waves would reinforce each other, nearby they would cancel each other out. One of the recent earthquakes in New Zealand caused similar problems.

Re:lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191196)

"Don't forget they have major earthquakes here."

Yep and in countries where houses are not built with ticky tacky wood, people run into their cellar for the safest place. This pyramid has 65 levels of cellar.

Re:lol (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191234)

Surround this with one of those sound-wave invisibility metamaterials [popsci.com] , and the earthquake can just pass around it, without affecting it.

Re:lol (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191056)

Or surface tension, pressure, Earth movement, ...

Although, at that depth you can get creative with rainwater seeping down and you can store your heat of the summer/cold of the winter in the ground to inverse while the season changes. (see Geothermal heat pump [wikipedia.org] )

Seasons (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191442)

I take it you've never been to Mexico City. Seasonal variation isn't a big deal there, being at high altitude in the tropics.

Most houses -- even for the wealthy -- don't bother to have heating or air conditioning.

Re:lol (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191248)

Pumps.

Pumps (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191456)

fail

sunlight how? (4, Funny)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190758)

They're going to use translucent floors to get sunlight to the bottom? Great idea. Domain squatters, now would probably be the time to grab pyramidupskirt.com.

Re:sunlight how? (2)

loftwyr (36717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190796)

Ummm "through clear or translucent core walls". Read it again.

Re:sunlight how? (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191100)

All the concept art in the technology review article [thetechnologyreview.net] clearly shows transparent floors.

The way I understand "clear or transparent core walls", some floors will have clear, others would have transparent. It seems obvious to me that the first 10 stores (shopping malls, etc) would have transparent walls, so that the space would feel more natural.

Whether pedestrians are allowed to walk across the glass courtyard is a different question.

Re:sunlight how? (2)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190820)

No, translucent walls. Most of the structure will be open air inside.

Oh, and translucent != transparent.

But the whole thing is covered over in glass. I assume they intend to keep the square a "square" and people will be able to walk around on the glass roof. In which case, given it's Mexico, I sure hope it's bulletproof.

Re:sunlight how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190872)

Transparent aluminum floors? [wikipedia.org] More seriously though, what about the problem of sinkholes like this one [nationalgeographic.com] in Guatemala? That particular sinkhole ate a 3-story building.

geofront? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190768)

I just hope we don't find any angels while we dig up for those :p

Re:geofront? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191210)

Yea, they already found devils in the sky while building up....

Re:geofront? (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191362)

Watch Neon Genesis Evangelion, you're lacking in Popculture references.

Re:geofront? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191414)

So, just to be clear, we're lacking in YOUR pop culture references, so WE'RE the wrong ones. Gotcha. That's clearly not at all self-centered. Not at all. Clearly. Noooooo.

2000 AD Judge Dredd ? (1)

wood_dude (1548377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190786)

Snuggle Down Warrens anyone ?

Re:2000 AD Judge Dredd ? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190980)

That was my first thought when I saw this. They clearly don't read their comics or they'd know what a bad idea it is.

Perhaps Mexico isn't really the best place. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190790)

With the severe issues facing Mexico, I'm not sure I'd bet my project on building a brand new type of architecture there. There are too many violence issues facing the country to make a project of that magnitude viable.

Re:Perhaps Mexico isn't really the best place. (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191178)

Not forgetting that Mexico City is built on what used to be a swampy lake so will have serious drainage issues when they go deep.

If they allow seepage and then pump it out they'll basically be draining the whole area and so create issues for the local flora.

No Windows (5, Insightful)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190800)

One of the things I hate about my current job is that there are no windows anywhere near where I am seated.

I frequently go weeks in winter without seeing sunlight because it is dark when I get to work and dark when I leave.

I find windowless offices to be very dreary and depressing. Only the economy keeps me in this dreary place.

Re:No Windows (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190928)

I'd love to work in an office without Windows. :rimshot:

But if I'm reading the design sketches correctly, many of the offices in this structure will have windows. It will have an inverted-pyramid-shape "courtyard" down the middle of it, [archdaily.com] which will take up much of the volume and allow for plenty of windows.

Re:No Windows (4, Informative)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191168)

How much of that light will be available below the first few stories?

If you go down to the bottom of a deep old-fashioned well- or a deep vertical cave the sky looks black even in daylight. - the diagnol light coming from the sun doesn't reach the bottom.

The windows is more than just light too- I could have a window into my neighbours cube but it wouldn't do anything for me.

There is nothing the same psychologically like seeing the outside world.

Sure- real daylight with it's particular hues is a help- but a window onto a central core wouldn't be the same.

You don't see the sun- the sky, the weather- birds, etc.

Re:No Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191048)

RTFA before trolling. The inverted pyramid has access to sunlight in the open core with it's translucent ceiling.

floodings... (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190804)

floodings...

Think of the giant sinkhole in Guatemala

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QT46LGcz9w [youtube.com]

Re:floodings... (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190960)

Think of the fact that Mexico City is built on a lake.

Re:floodings... (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191148)

A Smallpond perhaps? ;)

upsetting the natives (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190844)

The Mole Men are not going to be happy about this.

Hope the power doesn't go out on those sump pumps (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38190864)

Does anyone else see this as a giant death trap?
Flooding anyone? I would hate to be the guy on S-65 when the water starts pouring in and everybody is trying to climb their way out.

Re:Hope the power doesn't go out on those sump pum (2)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190886)

Or if there's a fire out grounds level, how do you get everyone out?

Re:Hope the power doesn't go out on those sump pum (2)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191016)

Or if there's a fire out grounds level, how do you get everyone out?

same way you get everybody out from the upper levels of a skyscraper when there's a fire at ground level... via protected fire staircases with anti-smoke doors etc.

Re:Hope the power doesn't go out on those sump pum (3, Insightful)

mpcarl (74506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191358)

The problem I see is that walking down stairs is pretty easy and most people can manage a number of floors without a problem. Walking up stairs is a different situation. Many people cannot walk up one or two levels, let alone the number of levels proposed. I think you would need tunnels from several levels going in several directions to escape platforms or safe rooms with elevator or crane access.

Re:Hope the power doesn't go out on those sump pum (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190968)

Groundwater moves very slowly. You'd have time to get out.

Earthquake...? (2)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190874)

And what happens to all this glass when another huge earthquake hits?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_Mexico_City_earthquake [wikipedia.org]

Re:Earthquake...? (1)

qualityassurancedept (2469696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190952)

I would rather be in a giant hole than on top of a high rise building in an Earthquake. I am sure they can design the whole think to basically float inside a shell of bedrock.... like shock absorbers on a car. If they are building the structure from nothing, then huge shock absorbers would be easy enough to install.

Re:Earthquake...? (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191272)

I think I saw something like that on Ducktales [screened.com] .

Re:Earthquake...? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191276)

They could, and have in existing underground buildings. I've been to one in the southeast UK - former cold-war command centre, now museum. It's built to withstand a nearby nuclear explosion, and does use the shock absorber technique on the whole structure. The US has a similar concept for NORAD, though they use individually isolated building sections on independant shock absorbers rather than a single structure enclosing the whole complex.

Re:Earthquake...? (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191372)

Shock absorbers do exactly nothing when the surrounding soil isn't solid.

Earthquakes (4, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190876)

Mexico City has been hit by some pretty nasty earthquakes [wikipedia.org] over the years [wikipedia.org] . I don't know if this design would be at all better or worse, but none of the linked-to articles make any mention of it. On the plus side, you don't need to worry about swaying or liquifaction [wikipedia.org] - the structure is supported on all sides by bedrock. On the down side, the structure is supported on all sides by bedrock ... bedrock that is likely shifting inexorably around.

Re:Earthquakes (2)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190946)

Ah - as it turns out, Mexico City is built on an old lakebed. It isn't bedrock at all, but rather poorly drained soil. From one of the articles:

Some facets of the Earthscraper design are so conceptual as to need inventing. One of these would involve finding a way to build so deeply into the water-soaked soil that supports—or fails to support—contemporary Mexico City.

When the Aztecs first built Tenochtitlan in 1325, this area—a valley ringed by mountains and volcanoes that reach heights of over 16,000 feet—was mostly covered by Lake Texcoco, with no natural drainage.

The Aztecs expanded Tenochtitlan’s area by filling the lake immediately around it, and created dam and channel systems to control the lake’s height.

After conquering Tenochtitlan in 1521, Spain established Mexico City atop its ruins. Efforts to drain the lake commenced in the 17th century; today nearly the entire valley is paved over. Pumping out the groundwater has caused parts of Mexico City to sink as much as 30 feet into the soft clay lakebed. The city also struggles with pumping wastewater and runoff out of the valley, as well as flooding.

So, in case of an earthquake, the surrounding soil would indeed liquifact, and the inhabitants would be totally screwed.

Re:Earthquakes (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191318)

Last time i checked, the earthquake moves along fault lines, and teh most damaged buildings are the ones without support.... so unless this earthquake found a fault directly through the middle of the complex I don't think much would happen at all during an earth quake...

Back to caves (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190884)

I guess its back to living in caves then. Even a man made cave is still a hole in the ground .

Moria 2.0 (5, Funny)

Tenek (738297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190902)

Construction will have to be stopped after they dig too deep and release the Balrog, though.

Good concept... (3, Interesting)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190914)

Good concept though for when we start colonizing other planets. :)

Underground living spaces will probably be the norm on Mars or the Moon should we ever colonize them.

Lower costs on keeping us warm in the cold of space.

Of course- that is, if we ever leave earth before the Klackons destroy us.

What about the buoyancy of this building? (4, Interesting)

VitaminB52 (550802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190944)

Ground water will cause a lot of buoyancy for this building - how will they prevent it from 'floating' upward? Other than using very thick walls from heavy construction materials?

there is a reason this hasn't been done.... (4, Interesting)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38190970)

I think this idea has been thought of in many arch programs, however from a practical side it's a dozy. The cost to excavate, the cost to transport the soil, dealing with ground water issue, 100 year flood conditions. even though it is a pyramid the retaining walls would have to be monstrous. Plus if anyone has ever seen what happens to an empty in-ground pool, there is reason for concern. I would put this out there with the floating island concept.

This is just plain silly (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191052)

A ridiculous idea from the beginning, but when I got to the point where they think they can have a few gardens to replace the need for outside ventilation I had to laugh.

Re:This is just plain silly (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191216)

I suspect that the intended effect is mostly psychological (but no less real), and there will be plenty of outside ventilation.

Re:This is just plain silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191398)

"A ridiculous idea from the beginning,..."

A 65 level deep saferoom/bomb shelter.
Most survivalists and paranoids would pay an arm and a leg to get in there.

English, do you speak it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191082)

a 65-story, 82,000-square-foot inverted pyramid beneath Mexico City takes a new approach

Wow, since this is written in present tense it must already be there.

The proposed building will be located

Now that you've switch tense, obviously it isn't already there.

Re:English, do you speak it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191146)

Wow, people are planning (present tense) to do something in the future. If you find this that hard to understand, I can't wait until we invent time travel, that'll really blow your mind!

Re:English, do you speak it? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191152)

Its there. They just need to remove the dirt from on top of it.

Flood Danger (1)

nostrumuva (949579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191150)

I'm betting the CEO would still prefer the top-most floor. If there were a flood and you were the guy in the office in the inverse peak, you'd be doomed.

Mexican engineering (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191158)

Yes I can trust them to pump sewage up 65 floors with absolutely no problems what so ever...

Re:Mexican engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191344)

That's the least of the problems they will have to overcome.

There are many very good reasons why no one has done this before. This thing will never be built. It's an impracticable concept.

Re:Mexican engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191466)

Can you name the top three problems that make this impracticable? Saying "trust me it doesn't work" just doesn't cut it on a discussion forum.

Better coverage (5, Informative)

Yev000 (985549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191160)

This seems to provide more information: http://inhabitat.com/bnkr-arquitectura-reveals-plans-for-an-incredible-underground-skyscraper-in-mexico-city/bnrk-earthscraper11/?extend=1 [inhabitat.com]

Over the past few decades, Mexico City has seen an enormous population boom. Though the steady influx of people is great, the city center is in desperate need of more office, retail, and living space. However, because of Mexico City’s historical significance, federal and local law prohibit the destruction of historical buildings (which is nearly everything) and have placed strict height regulations on new structures, keeping them shorter than eight stories. Thus, with nowhere to go, BNKR decided to invert a massive building design that digs deep into the heart of the city.

The first 10 stories of the structure will be a Pre-Columbian museum. The glass ceiling will allow people walking through the plaza to enjoy the artifacts below as well. The next 10 stories will be for retail and housing. These floors were put below the museum so people would have to travel through it and explore the history of the city they would perhaps otherwise ignore. The following 35 floors will be office spaces.

The whole design boasts a massive central void that allows natural light and ventilation to flow through every single floor. The “Earth Lobbies” on every 10th level also helps keep the building air fresh and clean, with enormous plant beds and vertical gardens filtering air toxins and producing more oxygen. These lobbies also serve as an open and clean communal area to break up and brighten the structure.

The very bottom floors of the Earthscraper are for all of the technical parts of the building. A water turbine generator pushes water into the exterior wall pumps and recycles used and clean water for the building’s facilities while also powering most of the electricity.

Named the Zocalo, the 190,000 square foot city center plaza is the ideal spot for an earthscraper. Surrounded by monuments like the Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, and Constitution Square, as well as a massive underground subway station, it is one of the most heavily trafficked sites of the city. BNKR’s design allows for the historical aesthetics of the plaza to remain while a bustling eco-center hums underground.

Perpetual motion too. (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191392)

They are going to use a 'water turbine generator' to supply the electricity to pump the water out of the turbines outlets! Then they will use the remaining electricity to run the building. Brilliant! Why hasn't anybody thought of this before?

Also they are planning on recycling 'clean water' out of their sewers. Again brilliant! Montezuma would be proud.

Best place to try it (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191180)

The best place to try it is where there is an existing hole. Look for an abandoned mine or quarry.

Or find somewhere where there is stuff in the ground that you want. Coal comes to mind. You could mine the coal in an inverted pyramid and then put glass over it. Done.

Re:Best place to try it (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191256)

Yes... although- there has to be a need for the building to be in place. Most coal mines, quarries, etc, don't exist in places where a) many people care to live/work in dense numbers b) land is expensive- it is cheaper to build horizontally than vertically in those places.

You tend to only find large vertical buildings where sq.ft of land is expensive- you don't find many skyscrapers in West Virginia in the mining communities- so there won't be much demand for earthscrapers either.

Re:Best place to try it (3, Interesting)

Spectre (1685) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191494)

Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri) is built over and around a number of existing salt mines. Due to the stable nature of the salt mines (few earthquakes, water table is significantly deeper than the mines, etc) many of the no longer active mines have been converted to office space and/or climate-controlled commercial and public storage, etc.

These don't go nearly as deep as the proposed building in the article, though.

Re:Best place to try it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191266)

Mines and quarries are usually far away from cities; there's enough space for conventional construction. The number of inner-city quarries is fairly small. Plus there's the issue of getting investments and people willing to live in some remote location without connection to "the civilised world".

UIUC undergrad library (4, Interesting)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191186)

Reminds me a little of our library. I would be able to see it from my window if they had built it above ground, but they chose to go down instead.

The legend of this decision lives on through a song about the Morrow Plots. As the song goes, "You Can't Throw Shade on The Corn!"

The Morrow Plots [wikipedia.org] were built in 1876 as an experimental field for growing crops, and is the oldest such field in existence in the western hemisphere. It might not sound like that big of a landmark, but the university decided to build our library underground [ideasinspi...vation.com] to preserve it.

Mexico City = Raccoon City! (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191200)

When the hive fails, don't reboot the red queen!

The roof the roof the roof is on fire (1)

perrin (891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191250)

It is nice out of the box thinking, but seriously, a glass roof with people walking around on it? First, the angle from the sun into that hole is so bad, you will only have sunlight at the lower end for ... what? a few minutes a day? You need mirrors with that stuff. Second, that glass roof is crying out for disaster. An earthquake or a terrorist bomb would shatter and send it like machine gun fire down at the heads of everyone living below. The glass area needs to be cordoned off totally from anyone and anything on basic safety concerns. Let alone due to the glass losing its translucency as people, you know, make it dirty, scratch it, and generally mess things up. Third, you really want some plan for controlling flooding. Sooner or later it will happen, and you need some way to deal with it. Not sure if they have thought about it, but the design looks pretty intimidating in that respect (one big hole).

We need to start building in depth, but I think the way to go is rather to use mirrors or artificial sunlight, and build many more but smaller structures that are easier to secure against natural and man-made disasters.

Re:The roof the roof the roof is on fire (1)

tspaghetti (2341496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191492)

Also, ladies would have to think twice before walking through the park with skirts.

How transparent will the roof be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38191252)

Will there be warnings to girls in skirts?

Global Warming... (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191294)

Interesting from a global warming standpoint.

1) Interesting to see if this truly is more energy efficient- using the ground to keep temperatures stable... less need to heat/cool. Less fossil fuel burnt?

2) All the ground displaced from projects such as these can be used to build levys to protect us from floods associated with global warming.

Fire hazard (1)

tspaghetti (2341496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191478)

What happens when a fire breaks out in levels -1 to -4, while you're at level -60?

Glass floors ???? (1)

denbesten (63853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38191526)

The glass ceiling will allow people walking through the plaza to enjoy the artifacts below as well.

The geologic forces in an earthquake would pale compared to the crushing force of the first skirt-wearing female in the approval chain.

This idea will never get off the ground (grin). I sense a PR stunt.

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