Will we ever… live in city-sized buildings?
The cities of science fiction are frequently portrayed as all-encompassing and self-contained structures, but how feasible is it to build a colossal city in a building?
Enclosed cities have become a narrative shorthand for futuristic settlements in science fiction. They are self-contained habitats, incorporating all essential infrastructure, including energy generation, food production, waste management and water. The concept of an arcology – a portmanteau term combining architecture and ecology – was proposed by the architect Paolo Soleri in 1969, as he sought to combine construction with ecological philosophies. A year later, Soleri started work on Arcosanti, an experimental town in America, which demonstrated his concepts. Soleri's concepts inspired science fiction with a vision of futuristic cities: monolithic habitats where the population live and work without ever leaving the building. Cinematic examples include the massive high-rise buildings in Dredd (based on the comic book character Judge Dredd) and Skyscraper, although little detail is given on how they operate. Science fiction, in turn, may have inspired some real-world variants. Saudi Arabia's proposed The Line is pitched as a massive smart city which could house nine million people within a single 200m-wide (660ft) building, stretching 170km (105 miles) and 500m (1,650ft) high. The Line would be powered using solar energy and wind turbines, but would not be entirely self-sufficient, as food and other supplies would still be needed for the residents, and would have to be provided from external sources.