Japan is now in talks to make their ‘City in the Sky’ project a real­ity. Con­ceived by the Shimizu Cor­po­ra­tion two decades ago, devel­op­ments in build­ing mate­ri­als and other tech­nolo­gies have now made this unique con­cept possible.

future pyramid sky city Japans City in the Sky

The Biggest Man Made Struc­ture on Earth

The Mega-City Pyra­mid will be 14 times higher than the Great Pyra­mid of Giza, and will house 3/4 mil­lion peo­ple, with an addi­tional 1/4 mil­lion peo­ple using the upper lev­els as office and recre­ational space.

Sit­ting 730 meters above sea level, the pyra­mid is will help answer Tokyo’s ever-condensed hous­ing situation.

A new superstructure

The unique mega­truss struc­ture — an assem­bly of reg­u­lar octa­he­dral units com­posed of shafts made from light­weight mate­ri­als such as car­bon fiber — makes pos­si­ble to a huge, liv­able pyra­mid city mea­sur­ing two kilo­me­tres high.

Tyrell Corporation Building 306x200 Japans City in the Sky

An inspi­ra­tion” The Tyrell Cor­po­ra­tion build­ing, from the 1982 film Blade Runner.

The struc­ture will be a multi-purpose city exten­sion com­bin­ing busi­ness, res­i­den­tial, com­mer­cial, research, cul­tural, and leisure facilities.

The larger, lower lev­els (lay­ers 1 — 4) will com­prise res­i­den­tial and office build­ings, whilst the upper lay­ers (5 –8) will house research cen­ters, leisure facil­i­ties, and a num­ber of unique hotels.

How it works

The city’s basic con­struc­tion units, each mea­sur­ing 350 meters per side pro­vide struc­tural sup­port from all direc­tions. Each octa­he­dral unit is formed by ver­ti­cally join­ing two square pyra­mids at their bases. The scope of this project is mas­sive, with each pyra­mi­dal struc­ture is about the same size as the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas.

It’s impor­tant to note that there is no glass ‘walling in’ these pyra­mids. The wind-permeable design reduces wind load, while each octa­he­dral unit sup­ports a con­tained build­ing on all sides. Together with vibration-control devices and clever load dis­tri­b­u­tion, the con­struc­tion method used allows for a mas­sive struc­ture of great struc­tural integrity.

Each octa­he­dral unit can be con­fig­ured to hold sets of high-rise res­i­den­tial pyra­mids, entire 100 story office build­ings or even sky­parks and playgrounds.

future residential buildings 290x272 Japans City in the Sky

Octa­he­dral unit con­tain­ing a res­i­den­tial pyra­mid configuration

future office buildings 290x272 Japans City in the Sky

And another con­tain­ing an office build­ing configuration

Inge­nious con­struc­tion exposes the inte­rior spaces to abun­dant sun­light and fresh air. The three-dimensional trusses are slen­der pipes, allow­ing sun­light to reach deep into the infra­struc­ture and cre­at­ing a highly liv­able environment.

New build­ing mate­ri­als = new possibilities

When the project was con­ceived, at the begin­ning of the 21st cen­tury, it was not able to be built with mate­ri­als avail­able at the time, due to their weight. How­ever, now, with the avail­abil­ity of super-strong light­weight car­bon nan­otubes, the project can become a reality.

The shafts used to con­struct each unit are made of the lat­est light­weight mate­ri­als (includ­ing car­bon and glass fibers) for superb strength and durability.

Hor­i­zon­tal shafts, 10 meters in diam­e­ter, will con­tain elec­tri­cal and com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works, cor­ri­dors, and dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works, as well as two new trans­porta­tion sys­tems and obser­va­tion win­dows.
The diag­o­nal shafts, each mea­sur­ing 16 meters in diam­e­ter, will house plumb­ing and elec­tri­cal net­works, two ele­va­tors, and a dis­tri­b­u­tion network.

The nodes at which shafts join will serve as strate­gic trans­porta­tion hubs. Each node will be cov­ered with a 50-meter-diameter sphere made of crys­tal­lized glass that col­lects and trans­mits sun­light through­out the city via opti­cal fibers. Intel­li­gent nat­ural light­ing indeed!

Use of inter­lock­ing, stan­dard­ized parts and mate­ri­als will facil­i­tate automa­tion and reduce the time required for construction.

The trusses would be coated with photo voltaic film to con­vert sun­light into elec­tric­ity and help power the city.

Tsunami & Earth­quake proof build­ing structure

Tsunamis and earth­quakes a real threat in today’s world. WIth the seis­mi­cally active Pacific Ring of Fire cut­ting right through Japan, the exter­nal struc­ture of the pyra­mid will be an open net­work of mega trusses, with the car­bon nan­otubes sup­port­ing struts made to allow the pyra­mid to stand against, and let through high winds, as well as sur­vive tsunamis and earthquakes.

Get­ting around

future inter building transport tubes 290x211 Japans City in the Sky

Inter-sector trans­port tubes con­nect­ing to a cen­tral hub.

The Mega-City will fea­ture a clever inter­nal trans­port and dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work, much like the arter­ies of the human body.
A con­tin­u­ous cir­cu­la­tory trans­porta­tion sys­tem, fea­tur­ing ele­va­tors, mov­ing walk­ways and smart vehi­cles will allow peo­ple and ship­ment con­tain­ers to travel to dif­fer­ent sec­tors, auto­mat­i­cally switch­ing routes and between modes of trans­port to pro­vide the most effi­cient path.

The Mega-City Pyra­mid is just one of a num­ber of build­ing projects that we are begin­ning to see. These new smart designs are mak­ing use of the pos­si­bil­i­ties offered by new, light­weight, ultra-strong build­ing mate­ri­als to cre­ate archi­tec­tural visions pre­vi­ously out of reach.

Spokesman for the devel­op­ment, Daichi Toyama said “Japan, as the world knows, always has had a futur­is­tic out­look on things. Noth­ing like this has ever been attempted before. It’s going to be a world first.”

The project is now live, although con­struc­tion is not due to start until 2029. “A lot of work still needs to be done before we begin, but the impor­tant thing is that this is going to be a reality.”


Photo cred­its: Screen­shot of the Tyrell Cor­po­ra­tion from the film Blade Run­ner.
All other pho­tos © Shimizu Cor­po­ra­tion