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.