Great cities have great skylines -- yet those same skyscrapers have the unfortunate effect of ruining historic districts and overshadowing beautiful buildings from the past. BNKR Arquitectura, an architecture firm based in Mexico City, has come up with an ingenious solution: the Earthscraper. It's a skyscraper in reverse, which tunnels deep into the earth, like an inverted pyramid. A hollow central atrium and glass roof allow light to reach the depths.
BNKR has proposed the Earthscraper as a solution to a thorny problem: Mexico City has so much history that new building is almost impossible in the city center. There are Aztec pyramids, Spanish churches, and modern buildings layered atop one another; meanwhile the city is crowded and growing, desperately in need of new office and living spaces. The Earthscraper would be built right underneath Mexico City's largest square. "To conserve the numerous activities that take place on the city square year round," the architects write, "the massive hole will be covered with a glass floor that allows the life of the Earthscraper to blend with everything happening on top." The building, meanwhile, would be 65 stories deep, with each floor getting progressively smaller.
The Earthscraper solves a practical problem -- lack of space. But it also expresses a historical fact: that "Mexico City is composed of different layers of cities superimposed on top of each other." [Images courtesy BNKR Arquitectura.]
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
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