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Floating megacity designed for the banks of the Mississippi


February 3, 2011

The New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) concept for the banks of the Mississippi

The New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) concept for the banks of the Mississippi

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Arcologies, which are essentially entire cities crammed into a single high population density megastructure, are still the realm of science fiction – or games such as Simcity. But with the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina ongoing, a group of designers have come up with the proposal for just such a structure designed to sit on the bank of the Mississippi. Called the New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH), the structure would house 40,000 residents along with all services and amenities that would allow them to live their entire lives within its walls if they so desired.

With much of New Orleans built below sea level and the city prone to extreme winds, NOAH’s designers chose to go with the concept of a floating structure whose open triangular frame shape is designed to dissipate severe winds by allowing weather to blow through the structure in any direction with a minimum of massing interference. The structure’s outer edges are also curved and tilted to further dissipate wind loads, while both curved and flat surfaces would be outfitted with secured sliding hurricane panels to form a protective exterior barrier.

While the 1,200 ft (366 m) structure is actually designed to float, it wouldn’t be set adrift on the Mississippi. Instead a water filled basin around 1,200 ft (366 m) in diameter and 250 ft (76 m) deep would be constructed on the bank of the Mississippi. The basin would partially be carved out of the existing land and also extended out into the river.

The actual foundation of the NOAH superstructure would then float within the basin thanks to its multi-cavity “hull” consisting of high strength concrete cells that form a matrix of approximately 40 x 40 cells. This matrix is designed to give the structure buoyancy and form the frame for the steel framed superstructure. The designers estimate that structure will draft 180 ft (55 m) within the water-filled basin, allowing for a minimum 50 ft (15 m) space between the floor of the basin and the floor of NOAH’s foundations.

Inside, “sky gardens” will be placed every 30 floors within the three main towers to act as community spaces. Designed as an all-pedestrian environment, only select horizontal areas will be fitted with moving walkways and/or electric train carriers, while vertical commuters will travel via a series of local and express elevators.

With no need for cars – although a parking garage to house 8,000 cars would be built within the foundations – NOAH is designed to be carbon neutral with solar array banding panels, wind turbines, river-based turbines, passive glazing system, sky garden heating/cooling vents, grey water treatment and fresh water recovery and storage systems.

NOAH’s estimated 30 million-square-footage (2.8 million m2) would be broken up into 20,000 residential units, three hotels, 1,500 time share units, three casinos, 1 million square feet of commercial space, 8,000 car garage, 100,000 square foot district school system, 50,000 square foot public works, 50,000 square foot administrative offices and 20,000 square foot district health care facility.

The NOAH design team sees the structure as a viable plan, not only for New Orleans but for any coastal urban area. And while there are many advantages to the concept of arcologies, they remain very much on the drawing-board at this stage.

Via Yanko Design.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Looks like just another flashy piece of concept art. Come back when there\'s some hard facts behind the feasibility of this concept. And the video is completely useless, ostensibly they created a 3D model of the concept and then animated it in different environments, nothing more, no information; nothing.

Facebook User

And when someone decides to fly a plane into it...?


Good point Bobthefish. We shouldn\'t build anything. Ever. Again.


Don\'t be so close-minded. Dreaming makes for creative thinking. Although this project may seem unattainable, it can spark other ideas that lead to great breakthroughs. What if someone said it would be crazy to think we could ever walk on the moon or that cars could run on air power (there is one) or that some of the things that seemed unimaginable in medicine just a few years ago could ever be achieved? Open your mind up to creative thinking and there is no end to what can be accomplished. Close your mind to possibilities and you\'ll be forever confined to what you currently have... nothing more!


Nice building, I suppose. They\'d better screen people before letting them live there, otherwise this would become another Public Works Housing Project/Slum in no time at all.


These Arcology have been \'floating\' around for at least thirty years. Initially I thought they were great ideas, but look at housing projects. During the 60s, 70s and early 80s they were seen as the solutions to house the poor in society, but ultimately they were seen as the dehumanizing warehousing of people and as breeding grounds for crime, and a great many of these were torn down and the residents dispersed into more \'humane\' neighborhoods.

At this point I see these Arcologies as housing projects on a gargantuan scale%u2014 and cost, both to build, maintain and ultimately tear down.

I think there is an important line between planned development and social engineering.


Truth in advertising demands it be shown on its ear in the Lower Ninth Ward following the next category 5 storm.


Cricorp, the \'close-minded\' argument goes both ways. Why would none of us ever want to move in to an Arcology? Because we\'re not in North Korea; identical drones happy to live in an institutional monolith that expresses somebody else\'s ideas of what is good.

It\'s an appealing idea if you\'re a student or in a similar situation where Arcology would be a move up in the world. But the reason they don\'t work is that we individuals have our own ideas for what we like to live in.

Liberals dream of a Logan\'s Run nightmare world like this, where we all can drop those horrible, greedy, individualistic ways - and join hands together singing in harmony. With the same allocated living space, same healthcare, same outrageous tax revenue paid to keep the votes coming in, it sounds like heaven until you\'re actually faced with it.

Todd Dunning

(Ed's note: let's try and keep things civilized everybody. Gizmag is a forum for the vigorous discussion of ideas, not for personalities or personal attacks)


Thanks for the calming note Ed. Perhaps some of the commentators should look back at Paolo Soleri - look into his \"Linear City\" I understand this is being actively pursued by China for development. Archigram was also a group that produced some interesting concepts for cities/communities. While some may wish to just continue to sprawl and expand there is something to be said for at least utilizing the land/area that we are in to its optimum. Look into the work of the early 50\'s \"Metabolist Visions\" movement, while I am not advocating it , it does give one pause to think of what may be possible. You will see some of this happening in other parts of the world and it would be a shame not to at least listen to the thinkers that we have in this country. As the Ed said, there should be calm careful, creative, thought & evaluation of the work that has come before.

Just a thought.


Another pipe dream. If I were to wish for something like this to be built, I would go for the eminently more practical Triton City designed by Buckminster Fuller almost 50 years ago.


Advance in Floating Buildings.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh

If such a project were to be built in New Orleans, the appropriate location would be on the North side of the city in Lake Pontchartrain. Many ocean going freighters travel the Mississippi in the New Orleans area. As a result, there seems to be an accident of one sort or another (collisions with piers or other ships) once a decade.


It looks like it was designed after an inflatable life raft.


Yeah Yeah Yeah - more recycled Popular Mechanics - \"Pie in the Sky\" bullshit...

Mr Stiffy

I have never liked these megaopolii designs, even when they were done in 60s and 70s. The require a sacrifice of individuality and acceptance of a hive lifestyle that I think is the wrong path for humanity.

Every attempt at a major consolidation of housing over the decades has been a miserable failure here in the US and many other nations.. They always devolve in to habitats for lower income class people and then end up being torn down to protect the people that they were designed to support.. Major cities are full of these examples.. I simply can\'t imagine being forced to live in that type of environment..

Perhaps it would be more successful in countries were the population is used to living with no, or very little, personal space where living mere feet from your neighbor is the norm, but in the US these will always be miserable failures.

Steve Gerencser

Why can\'t part of the city(9th Ward,maybe?)be flooded and built up like Venice,Italy?It could be good for tourism if done well.Although it wouldn\'t help if the storm surge was too high,it would help if the city was to flood for any other reason and would be the quickest are to re-stabilize.I can think of several other potential causes of catastrophic failure of the Levees other than hurricanes.


I wonder how well it\'d hold up to a tornado? Unless it\'d last an extremely long time, typical \"short term\" buildings seem much more tenable. The same thing is designed as a possibility for the Japanese, but land is much more at a premium there. Also, there\'s a lot of wasted space inside this structure. A lot of tall, traditional buildings make a lot more sense.

Facebook User

A City like New Orleans where the charm and human sized dimensions of the French Quarter is no place for this kind of overwhelming structure. I could imagine it floating near Dubai or even Shanghai. There needs to be a degree of historical and architectural compatibility that is clearly lacking with the arcology concept. That such a mega-structure could be considered for location here indicates a serious lack of common sense and good judgement.

Janet Bratter
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