Bionic Tower: A 4,000-Foot (1,3 KM) Mega Residential Project

During the peak of its popularity, the Bionic Tower managed to captivate the interest of 50 diverse businesses hailing from three different countries.

The Bionic Tower is a visionary elevated metropolis designed by the Spanish engineer Javier Pioz, along with Rosa Cervera and Eloy Celaya. The Bionic Tower is a 4,029-foot (1,228-meter) mega-residential project that will house around 100,000 people. The main idea behind the Bionic Tower is to use bionics, which are artificial systems that act like living systems. They are technological advancements that aim to address the issue of global population growth in a sustainable manner. The rules of future architecture mimic natural structures. And this one-of-a-kind Bionic Tower will be unaffected by the destructive forces of fire, flood, earthquake, or hurricane.

History of the Bionic Tower

the Bionic-Tower collage

A Spanish couple, Maria Rosa Cervera and Javier Gómez Pioz, along with Eloy Celaya, designed the Bionic Tower endeavor. The firm “Cervera and Pioz” was established in 1979 as a building design firm, and in 1985, they started working with “Dynamic Structures.”

Javier believed in the bionics philosophy, which started in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s but was later banned by the same country. To study bionics is to view the natural world as a source of inspiration and knowledge. Those who support bionics argue that all living things, from trees to birds, have structures that are optimal for their particular purposes.

So, Javier, who was interested in bionics, started to think about the possibility of building a completely new type of structure. This would come with completely new design features, proportions, and ways of working. Everything that man had constructed up to that point struck him as unnatural, frail, and doomed to fail.

the Bionic Tower technical drawing

In 1992, the architects Tim and Amy Mayer started devoting more time and energy to the field of bionic architecture. It is also known as “architectural bionics.” Simultaneously, a community of believers was formed. They consisted of not just engineers, designers, and architects, but also scientists, and psychologists.

In January 1997, a group of architects, engineers, biologists, and designers from different fields came together to work on the prototype of the Bionic Vertical Space. The conclusion was proposed at a talk titled “Conquering Vertical Space in the 21st Century – International Conference on Multipurpose Tall Towers and Tall Buildings” at the “III International IFHS Conference,” held in London in October 1997 and hosted by the Concrete Society. The architects took their “Bionic Tower” idea around the globe from 1997 to 2001, presenting it in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Bionic Tower May be Built One Day

the Bionic Tower in real life comparison

So, China was the first country to sign a deal with the Spanish company to build the Bionic Tower. China is the starting point for many forward-thinking and highly hopeful projects, so it makes sense that it was the first country to do so. At this time, China was aiming to construct a skyscraper metropolis. Shanghai was the ideal place for this trial. Shanghai mayor Xu Kuangdi was especially interested in the tower. Another interested party was Hong Kong.

The population of Shanghai is about to reach 30 million in 2024. And within the next half century, this massive city may see the construction of multiple megastructures with designs comparable to the Bionic Tower. Spanish engineers Javier Pioz, Rosa Cervera, and Eloy Celaya still hold all ownership rights to the Bionic Tower’s intellectual property today.

bionic tower height comparison
The Bionic Tower height comparison.

Since the beginning of history, man has tried to fight against the forces that attract him to the land where he was born. This trend also appears in the history of tall architecture. With a projected 50% rise to 12 billion world population by 2050, a new architectural era seems inevitable. When the Bionic Tower was at the height of its popularity, it attracted the attention of 50 different businesses from three different nations.

Today, its fate is vague. If built, it would the tallest man-made structure in history, just like the Tokyo Tower of Babel, Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid, or X-Seed 4000.

The Bionic Tower in Numbers

The estimated cost of building the eco-friendly Bionic Tower is around $15–$18 billion. The mega skyscraper will be around 4,030 ft (1,230 m) in height and have 300 stories. The total floor space is 21,500,000 square feet or 2 square kilometers. The framework of the tower is made of micro-structured, high-strength concrete with 1,372 MPa or 2 tons per cubic centimeter.

The official Bionic Tower concept in Shanghai.
The official Bionic Tower concept in Shanghai.

And there will be about 368 horizontal and vertical lifts in the Bionic Tower, moving at a speed of 15 m/s. They will allow visitors to travel from the ground level to the top floor in about 2 minutes. The Bionic Tower’s base is 436 by 328 feet (133 by 100 m) in diameter, and its broadest point is 544 by 328 feet (166 by 100 m). The Bionic Tower’s overall dimensions are in the form of a cypress. Because they are air-permeable, cypresses can be both slim and sturdy.

A man-made island located in a man-made lake will serve as the foundation of the Bionic Tower city. The artificial lake is created to dampen the effects of earthquakes, and this artificial base island at its center will be 3,300 feet (1 km) in diameter. There will be schools, hotels, workplaces, shops, museums, sports facilities, cinemas, and other entertainment and recreational complexes in and around the Bionic Tower.

The Design Features of the Tower

bionic tower in spanish

Each community is comprised of two sets of residences: those on the inside of the Bionic Tower and those on the outside. The Bionic Tower will have multi-story buildings surrounded by vertical gardens. The people who live there will be able to move around freely and still enjoy being close to nature. The proposal calls for man-made lakes to be constructed in the center of each neighborhood.

The project’s engineer, Javier Pioz, says that the Bionic Tower skyscraper will be made up of 12 vertical neighborhoods, or quarters. Each neighborhood will be approximately 260 feet (80 meters) tall, with the support floors between each quarter serving as a framework for the next level quarter. These intermediate-secure zones will also be utilized for emergency situations.

The settling will begin as the “quarters” are constructed. Official buildings and hotels have already been approved for use on the premises. The estimated construction time for the Bionic Tower is 15 years. It took about seven years to create and calculate the complete undertaking.

The settling of the Bionic Tower will be able to begin as the "quarters" are constructed.
The settling of the Bionic Tower will be able to begin as the “quarters” are constructed.

The trees have a circular structure of fluid pipelines with a high bending strength that function as “air beds.” These pipes provide an additional line of defense against fire. Based on this idea, the Bionic Tower is divided into 12 distinct neighborhoods. Each neighborhood is split by a 50-foot (15-meter) high impermeable section that acts as an “air bed” during an emergency situation.

Each resident will also have access to a secure space that is less than 131 feet (40 m) in height in the event of a fire.

The Bionic Architecture of the Tower

Bionic Tower drawing

The project says that since people in the elevated city won’t be able to open their windows, air and light will readily come in. This will cut down the wind resistance and, by extension, vibrations. The mega-tall building will still have a maximum sway of 8 ft (2.45 m). Because it is well known that on the higher levels of contemporary buildings, fluctuations caused by wind surges are quite visible.

The outside of the Bionic Tower will also be covered with a thin plastic that looks like leather or tree bark. Also, the air conditioning systems that create the urban environment will mimic the way the skin naturally regulates body temperature.

Behind the Bionic Tower’s organic framework is a captivating bionic architecture theory. One of the Bionic Tower’s architects made the following remarks on the official website of the project regarding the tower’s underlying philosophy:

“An architect who seeks to create something perfect must constantly turn his gaze to nature, just as an aircraft designer studies everything that can fly.”

The Bionic Tower is a metropolis within a skyscraper, not just a collection of tall buildings and floors. That is, an asymmetric structure that looks complicated is hidden inside a single “cylinder.” The primary concept of the Bionic Tower is based on a cypress tree, and the tree city’s foundation will grow in a steady, proportionate fashion as the floors are added.

The designer Javier Pioz shared this for Bionic Tower in an interview:

We borrowed the mechanism of growth, or rather, the choice of height, from trees. First of all, from the cypress. Its green part consists of small scaly membranes through which wind of any strength passes, and it does not move. Its root system is only 50 centimeters [1.65 ft] deep, but it is incredibly branched and resembles a sponge in structure. With each new centimeter of the trunk, a new root process appears, going slightly to the side of the existing one. Trying to knock down or uproot a cypress will require incredible effort.

By Hrothsige Frithowulf

Hrothsige works at Malevus as a history writer. His areas of historical interest include the ancient world and early Europe, as well as the history of modern culture.