Move over, Burj Khalifa: 30km tall buildings on their way… in 2045

Mega-tall buildings complete with spaceports will form ‘cities in the sky’ in 30 years’ time, futurologist predicts

PHOTO: Back to the Future? How megacities could look in thirty years’ time. Credit: Hewden

By 2045 planet Earth will be home to 30km high skyscrapers complete with spaceports, built by construction workers wearing super-strength exoskeletons, with driverless vehicles zooming along smart highways below.

These predictions were made by the renowned futurologist Dr Ian Pearson in a report commissioned by equipment-hire specialist Hewden, which set out a vision of future cities in the sky.

The 2045: Constructing the Future report was launched on October 21, 2015 to coincide with the date Marty McFly and Dr Emmett Brown time-travelled to in the hit 1980s sci-fi classic, Back to the Future II.

It looked at what the UK might look like in another 30 years, and covered areas such as building design, transport, materials, technology and health and safety.

“While we’re not all flying around in cars, there are a number of things, such as the use of drones, video conferencing and some of the physical structures, that were portrayed very accurately in the movie,” said Dr Ian Pearson in the report.

“The acceleration of new technology has and will continue to be the biggest driver of change. As we look forward another 30 years, we can expect to see a very different, but exciting world,” he added.

With significant strides already being made in artificial intelligence, Dr Pearson predicts that by the year 2045, buildings might have ‘an AI personality that runs them, collects and processes all the sensor data and maintains all the various infrastructure systems and human comfort systems, as well as coordinating building robots.”

“Their embedded IT and sensor networks will act much like a human nervous system. Building residents will take it for granted that they can just talk and the building will hear them and adjust their environment accordingly. That will reduce the need for switches and manual control systems, though there will still be a master override that can be accessed in the event of failure,” he explained.

Furthermore, it is predicted that building materials will generally be lighter and stronger than they are now. Graphene, carbon nanotubes and some “yet-to-be-discovered materials” will be used to strengthen concrete, glass and composites.

Steel could be strengthened by the addition of these materials, Dr Pearson predicted, or even replaced entirely as the strong building skeleton.

“Some more exotic shape-changing materials will help buildings adapt faster and better to weather forces. There will also be more use of materials such as translucent concrete, plastics and shape-changing polymers. Light emitting fillers and paints (will also be used). Carbon foams will even offer the capacity to make tethered floating structures,” he added, pointing out that these materials will help humanity build incredibly tall structures, some that could be as high as 30km high.

Augmented reality will also play a major role in the design and aesthetics of a building, Pearson said. “It’s likely that many buildings will actually be very plain, instead using AR to create visually appealing environments for those that visit.”

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