Very Large Structure, a gigantic community on wheels, is a design for a mobile, nomadic city.

The structure would stretch the length of five football fields and would be nearly 600 feet tall, perched on caterpillar-like legs that run along a track.

The designer, Spanish architecture student Manuel Dominguez, says that the city would follow a schedule throughout the year, traveling to different places based on the needs of the region.

Onboard, solar panels, wind turbines, and hydrogen would provide renewable energy for a full city, including hospitals, restaurants, libraries, universities, and sports stadiums.

Could something like this actually exist? Theoretically, yes.

Dominguez deliberately chose existing technology to make up each part of the structure, including open-air mining machinery, logistics equipment at super-ports, space technology, and eco-villages.

"Even though I'm very attracted to science fiction and utopical and distopical architecture and urbanism, I was more interested in investigating real life technology that has already been tested, working, and available since the 1960s," Dominguez says.

But even if it's feasible, Dominguez admits his creation may not necessarily be desirable in its current form.

Instead, he sees the design, completed for his masters thesis, as an exercise in exploring issues that the architecture world isn't currently considering.

He thinks that elements of the idea could eventually be used in other ways--from how buildings or cities are built to how we manage energy and waste.

The system could have "several positive effects such as re-equilibrating the population between rural and cities, and offering new employment and living opportunities," Dominguez explains.

Forests and other natural areas, he says, might also have the chance to regrow while the city moved away.

Keep scrolling for more images of the design.

Keep scrolling for more images of the design.

Keep scrolling for more images of the design.

2013-11-12

A 600-Foot-Tall City On Wheels, For When It's Time To Get Away From It All

Cities are so ... static. The Very Large Structure will let an urban population just roll down the road if commerce or resources dry up.

When a city struggles--much like Detroit is struggling today--residents move. But what if the city moved instead? Madrid-based architecture student Manuel Dominguez imagines a mobile, nomadic city with his design for Very Large Structure, a gigantic community on wheels.

The structure stretches the length of five football fields and is nearly 600 feet tall, perched on caterpillar-like legs that run along a track. In Dominguez’s vision, the city would follow a schedule throughout the year, traveling to different places based on the needs of the region. Onboard, solar panels, wind turbines, and hydrogen would provide renewable energy for a full city, including hospitals, restaurants, libraries, universities, and sports stadiums.

Could something like this actually exist? Theoretically, yes. Dominguez deliberately chose existing technology to make up each part of the structure, including open-air mining machinery, logistics equipment at super-ports, space technology, and eco-villages.

"Even though I'm very attracted to science fiction and utopical and distopical architecture and urbanism, I was more interested in investigating real-life technology that has already been tested, working, and available since the 1960s," Dominguez says.

The system could have "several positive effects such as re-equilibrating the population between rural and cities, and offering new employment and living opportunities," Dominguez explains. Forests and other natural areas, he says, might also have the chance to regrow while the city moved away.

But even if it's feasible, Dominguez admits his creation may not necessarily be desirable in its current form. Instead, he sees the design, completed for his masters thesis, as an exercise in exploring issues that the architecture world isn't currently considering. He thinks that elements of the idea could eventually be used in other ways--from how buildings or cities are built to how we manage energy and waste.

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433 Comments

  • It boggles the mind how designs like this get covered without context, in architecture moving cities is not new, this one however looks particularly uninspiring. It looks like the turning radius of the 8 story high treads is gigantic (assuming the thing turns). That doesn't make it particularly maneuverable, also considering its scale and the necessity for flat terrain. I won't get into the energy required to move it but it would take more than wind, solar and hydrogen to move the treads alone. I do see a use for movable cities and relocatable ecosystems, just not on the landmass of earth.

  • Charles Ostman

    Intriguing concept . . . but just a caveat or two. This would require existence on a relatively, perpetually flat surface (???), and, where would this migrate from / to (as in economic viability locations)?

    Sort of a roving, migrant cityscape entity, like a gigantic insect hive, crunching its way across a vast, bleak landscape? This might work well on another planet (Mars for example), perhaps. Trying picture this on Earth is still a bit challenging . . . but it is, as said previously, an intriguing concept.

  • Adams

    The structure stretches the length of five football fields and is nearly 600 feet tall, perched on caterpillar-like legs that run along a track. In Dominguez’s vision, the city would follow a schedule throughout the year

  • JBK1

    ...given enough willpower, commitment and resources, I don't see impossible that detroit can be fixed...so, sock it to me mitch ryder and the detroit wheels.....:)!

  • zsvdkhnorc

    It's interesting to see a study of it, but the idea is in no way new. The earliest version I recall was mentioned in passing in the 1912 story 'The Night Land'.

    The resource being chased, though, was sunlight in a 1 day=1 year situation. The lead cities planted, the middle cities tended the crops, and the trailing cities harvested as they went around the equator on tracks.

    There's nothing new under the sun.

  • Gunslinger

    Whats the car insurance on something that going to be?

    Does it need tags and registration?

    If the "city" is speeding do all the citizens get a ticket?

    I won't mention the 4 way stop sign dilemma.

    Now I'm just joking (kinda sorta). He said it would be tracks like a train.

    What if it derails?

    This sounds a train wreck waiting to happen. I call it 'ObamaCare" on steroids!

  • tjrad

    Washington DC could learn some lessons from this. A lot of things look great on paper but are not functional in reality.

  • Bruiser in Houston

    1500 feet long, six hundred feet tall, lets say five hundred feet wide. And he plans to move this structure using "wind, solar, and... hydrogen?" The first two have very LOW energy density. Cover the structure (every open square inch) in solar cells and on the best day possible you will generate less than 35 megawatts. 35 megawatts under ideal conditions. Translated into horsepower that is 46750.

    Cover it in wind turbines (which must be spaced sufficiently far apart to best use available wind. Say you're using a 2MW wind turbine. The rotor diameter is about 90m. Optimal spacing is 8 rotor diameters downwind and 5 rotor diameters crosswind. So, best case you have 4 wind turbines generating 8 megawatts, or 10725 horsepower, once again in optimal conditions.

    Let's add in "hydrogen." Does he mean hydrogen fusion or a conventional powerplant burning hydrogen? Probably the latter if he uses "existing" tech. So, where does this hydrogen come from? Sure, you can make it from water, but the cost for electrolyzing water is ridiculously high. To make "one gallon" of liquid hydrogen would require the energy in 8 gallons of gasoline. Where do you store it? Does the author know hydrogen is flammable AND odorless AND requires special tankage?

    This "city" is about eight times larger than an aircraft carrier and moves on land. The Nimitz class carriers have two reactors generating 104 megawatts to move it through water and supply power.

    Anyone who has had basic engineering classes would know that this idea is foolish.

  • section9

    If you look closely you'll see the warp core for the matter-anti matter drive. He just didn't get around to putting the twin nacelles on each side yet.
    Oh ye of little faith!

  • Bruiser in Houston

    The massive ruts this "city" would dig into the ground would prevent it from moving ANYWHERE. Sorry.

  • bobclaville

    Wish they could do that to Washington DC, and put the entire city off the coast of SOMALIA. It would be safe from Pirates since...they all represent Congress, and the White House. The navy's of the world need a TARGET for their gunnery, and missile testing. This would also allow WE THE PEOPLE to benefit from NOT paying for the 535 plus one...retirement for life. Let them fight it out with the Somali's.

  • Steve R

    What if the city becomes infested with liberals and they criss-cross the country crushing the indigenous inhabitants along their way?

  • Powdered Toast Man

    The logistics involved in actually moving something this size would pretty much mean it isn't going anywhere

  • LysolMotorola

    And this is why Europe will never flourish again. At least until they build this. There must be better ways to waste one's time. Try planning a bridge across Gibraltar -- so the illegal immigrants from Africa do not have to get wet when they take over your land.