Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on March 18, 2008
Is it just me or is the thought of living above a flooded metropolis in a series of pre-fabricated helium balloons just a little — dare I say — out there? I mean, it beats a toxic FEMA trailer, but I’m not convinced. But at the risk of getting all killjoy on you, I’ll let you decide for yourself if this proposal for a water-logged NYC is rooted in logic or merely a flight of fancy.
The What if New York City… Design Competition for Post-Disaster Provisional Housing sought temporary solutions in the event that New York was hit by a catastrophic coastal storm. The Studio Lindfors entry, Cloud City, is “an uplifting experience that will allow communities to remain intact as they pull themselves out of the rubble.” (With views to die for, I’m sure.) The premise is that a layer of provisional housing (in the form of a series of airships) be deployed above the damaged areas, allowing workers to get on with the rebuilding without residents around. And for the pesky residents, being close to home is supposed to “foster a sense of security”. Yeah, there’s nothing quite like peering down into your destroyed former abode to make you feel all safe and snug.
On the plus side, the airships themselves are quite cool. Stored in warehouses, four workers can inflate and secure them in about an hour. As to the structure, “each home consists of three basic components: an inflatable bladder, a rigid core, and a metal and wood platform” with enough room for a family of four. They’re environmentally friendly too — the balloon is made of recycled polyester and the vast surface area is perfect for mounting solar panels.
Cloud City certainly looks cool, but in terms of safety, I can’t shake that Hindenburg foreboding. Also on practical level, being up in the air all the time would kinda suck. “I just need to pop out to get some coffee.” Good luck with that.