Inspired by the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons (set in the year 2062), design company Arconic has proposed a new concept for a skyscraper: one that reaches three miles up into the sky, and that integrates innovative self-cleaning and 3D printed materials. The skyscraper was conceived of by company engineers in partnership with futurists from around the world. So while they may not be ready to break ground on the project just yet, we very well could be working or even living in these buildings in decades to come. They plan to make this goal a reality by focusing on three main design goals that are crucial for development: organic facades made from 3D printed building materials; active, self-cleaning coating technology; and energy-efficient protective framing technology.
They plan to achieve this lofty goal using 3D printing, which has opened up various possibilities across the field of architecture, and would be crucial to the future towers, as it could provide a way to design and manufacture complex, organically-inspired structures. These structures are created with complex shapes that can only be manufactured by 3D printing, and would allow a building to reach their intended 3 mile high goal. Sherri McCleary, a chief materials scientist at Arconic, explains that 3D printing can be exploited to create very strong structures capable of withstanding a range of climates and even extreme winds.
In addition to 3D printing, McCleary emphasized the significance of self-cleaning building coatings, which simultaneously work to purify the structure’s surrounding air. One such coating is called EcoClean, which provides a number of benefits in terms of aesthetics, building maintenance, and environmental impact. Released in 2011, EcoClean works to reduce pollutants in the air around the building through the interaction between chemicals in the material and light and water vapor from the environment. According to Arconic, the combination of elements result in free radical atoms, which not only pull in pollutants, but break them down.
The third point of focus, energy-efficient protective framing technology, concerns windows. The company has devised a new window structure called Bloomframe, which—in the simplest terms—consists of a motorized window that can convert an open balcony into a glass-enclosed one in less than a minute. The technology for this already exists, and Arconic has been eagerly showing it off at various trade shows. Bloomframe has obvious advantages in terms of thermal performance, and would also allow the buildings to transform themselves, so to speak, rather than being immobile and passive.