This Ingenious Skyscraper Would Hang from an Asteroid and Float Between Cities

What if we build from the sky down? NYC architects release designs for a skyscraper that would hang from an asteroid and travel between hemispheres.

Analemma tower
Collage of renderings of Analemma Tower. Credit: Clouds Architecture Office.

What if we didn’t build our structures up towards the sky, but instead found a way to build from the sky down?

An architecture firm from New York unveiled a stunning design for Analemma Tower, a skyscraper that would be suspended from an asteroid. It would also be the world’s tallest building ever.

The innovative idea that the design firm Clouds Architecture Office calls the “Universal Orbital Support System,” is to place a large asteroid into orbit right above earth, at the height of about 50,000 km (31,068 miles). That would be way higher than the International Space Station which is at only 249 miles above. A strong cable would be lowered from the asteroid. And from that cable a very tall tower tower would be suspended.  

A very sci-fi vision.


Credit: Clouds Architecture Office.

The advantage of making such a building, according to the architects, is that since it’s being built in the air, it can be constructed and transported anywhere. In fact, the firm is proposing to build it over Dubai, where it can be built for one fifth of what it would take in New York City.

Analemma would be powered by space-based solar panels, which would have the advantage of being constantly exposed to sunlight. Water would be recycled in a semi-closed loop, with new water coming as condensate from clouds and rainwater. 

The construction of Analemma Tower. Credit: Clouds Architecture Office.

What about elevators? They would be electromagnetic and cable-less.

The name Analemma provides a clue to how the building will move throughout the day. “Analemma” refers to the figure-8-like path of the sun in the sky if you look at it at the same time of day. Similarly, the tower would move along a figure-8 path throughout the day and return to the same place in the sky. While on the move, it would pass over cities like New York, Havana, Atlanta and Panama City.

Credit: Clouds Architecture Office.

How would it travel like that? By having the asteroid’s geosynchronous orbit match earth’s sidereal one-day rotation period. A sidereal day tells us how much Earth rotates relative to the stars (rather than the sun).

The tower would travel daily between northern and southern hemispheres.

Structurally, the tower, essentially a floating city, would be broken up into components. Commercial spaces and offices would be nearest the bottom. Then you get the garden and agricultural areas and then comes the large residential portion. At the higher levels, the building would have space for devotional and funerary activities. 

Credit: Clouds Architecture Office.

The very top would actually get an additional 40 minutes of sunlight each day but would be very difficult to live in, due to extreme pressure and temperature conditions. 

Sure, such a building sounds highly ambitious, with all manner of possible challenges and objections (what if the asteroid holding this building is hit by another asteroid?) But the designers think humanity is ready for it, saying “it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility.”

Just look at these views through different windows in the tower:

Credit: Clouds Architecture Office.

The architects also think the building will pay for itself, commanding “record prices” as the boom in residential tower building shows how “sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation”.

They point to some recent asteroid-related developments to bolster the feasibility of their plan:

“Manipulating asteroids is no longer relegated to science fiction. In 2015 the European Space Agency sparked a new round of investment in asteroid mining concerns by proving with its Rosetta mission that it's possible to rendezvous and land on a spinning comet. NASA has scheduled an asteroid retrieval mission for 2021 which aims to prove the feasibility of capturing and relocating an asteroid.”

While the Analemma Tower is certainly speculative at this point, with some of the proposed technology not yet available, it’s still an exciting idea straight out of the hopefully-near future.

Here's another great pic of the tower above NYC:

Credit: Clouds Architecture Office.

How New York's largest hospital system is predicting COVID-19 spikes

Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.

Credit: Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
  • Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

Listen: Scientists re-create voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy

Scientists used CT scanning and 3D-printing technology to re-create the voice of Nesyamun, an ancient Egyptian priest.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists printed a 3D replica of the vocal tract of Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest whose mummified corpse has been on display in the UK for two centuries.
  • With the help of an electronic device, the reproduced voice is able to "speak" a vowel noise.
  • The team behind the "Voices of the Past" project suggest reproducing ancient voices could make museum experiences more dynamic.
Keep reading Show less

Dark matter axions possibly found near Magnificent 7 neutron stars

A new study proposes mysterious axions may be found in X-rays coming from a cluster of neutron stars.

A rendering of the XMM-Newton (X-ray multi-mirror mission) space telescope.

Credit: D. Ducros; ESA/XMM-Newton, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Surprising Science
  • A study led by Berkeley Lab suggests axions may be present near neutron stars known as the Magnificent Seven.
  • The axions, theorized fundamental particles, could be found in the high-energy X-rays emitted from the stars.
  • Axions have yet to be observed directly and may be responsible for the elusive dark matter.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Put on a happy face? “Deep acting” associated with improved work life

    New research suggests you can't fake your emotional state to improve your work life — you have to feel it.

    Credit: Columbia Pictures
    Personal Growth
  • Deep acting is the work strategy of regulating your emotions to match a desired state.
  • New research suggests that deep acting reduces fatigue, improves trust, and advances goal progress over other regulation strategies.
  • Further research suggests learning to attune our emotions for deep acting is a beneficial work-life strategy.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Surprising Science

    World's oldest work of art found in a hidden Indonesian valley

    Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.

    Scroll down to load more…