envelope architects presents its futurist and self-reliant housing concept for china

envelope architects presents its futurist and self-reliant housing concept for china

the ‘tiered eco city’ by envelope architects presents a conceptual typology as an exemplar of self-financing, self-sustaining infrastructure set in yilong, china. it challenges the spatial ‘rules’ that seem to govern current planning policy. instead the emphasis is placed on stacking ‘layers’ to maximize development land, with each layer responding to its social, environmental and economic needs. by creating a vertical mix-used infrastructure, the land take is minimized, urban intensification is achieved and a platform for a rich combination of living, working, playing, learning and caring is provided.

tiered eco city — view showing nature’s towering filter system, heavy lift airships and sky ports



english based studio envelope architects‘ proposed transport system ‘quad_rail’ has a monorail for passenger transportation. slung under the main elevated rails could be gliding support frames transporting converted containers that are micro-flats, office units and hotel suites. the containers could either be stacked for plug and play temporary usage — with sky gardens — or placed on floating platforms. the top tier is a residential plateau consisting of our low rise / high density ‘orbital housing’ concept. tall vertical botanical gardens can produce oxygen for the basement layers and also act as sky-ports for docking heavy lift airships.

tiered eco city — view showing underground layers



the age of the mega-city and mass urban migration is upon us. by the year 2030 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. tokyo is currently the largest with 80 million residents. but china will shortly overtake this figure with their cities such as beijing, shanghai, the pearl river city necklace – canton — and the chong-qing cluster — which will become the same size as austria. these cities want to be connected to other cities globally and locally — they thrive on connectivity. the biggest improvements in climate change can come from the sharing of ideas between cities.

view of the orbital living models



there are 9 billion people in the world and they need to be connected online, have a healthy food source and as china prospers the middle classes will need products and goods. the towers in envelope architects’ ‘tiered eco city’ work very hard providing accommodation and aerial distribution center. they also create oxygen for the habitable rooms underground. the stacked spheres contain trees, shrubs and some edible plants that absorb carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide and release oxygen. one tree can produce enough oxygen for 4 people. so, these spheres are nature’s air filtering system – but there also act as winter gardens and should give the residents of yilong a place to enhance well-being.

street view of the orbital living



development of heavy lift airship is gaining momentum. these gentle giants can travel 12,500 miles without stopping carrying payloads up to 500 tons. they can also be pilot-less, travelling for up to 5 days without stopping. envelope architects are suggesting that the 192 oxygen towers also act as sky ports, to enable docking and delivery of heavy freight. the cranes raise and lower the containers from and into the below ground levels. the airships are very green compared to sulphur belching container ships and need no runway and will likely be power by the sun. smaller swarm drone clusters may be used deliver smaller goods straight the housing units — all this helps reduce congestion.

axonometric view



the topping on the ‘tiered eco city’ is a housing plateau that supports the orbital housing concept which is envelope architects’ version of the family home. the architects aim to connect the home dweller to the interior and exterior environment in a way that can imaginatively generate new qualities of satisfaction in home ownership. by connecting them to nature and through offering flexible spaces that can adapt to changes in life we increase the sense of well-being about the home. this is a responsive, intelligent home that engages with its immediate cluster neighbors and larger communities. it is a playful and glamorous dwelling that the project team feels is more appropriate to today and tomorrow’s dwellers.

orbital living — circular waste, heating and manufacturing system



between 11 detached to a maximum of 13 — to reach the 40 unit per hectare requirement — sun-catcher houses are set around an oval hub. in the center of these houses is a raised area for designated collective use perhaps a swimming pool or a playground or an allotment — the cluster vote on its use for shared use. envelope architects feels that the hub is a safe leisure area where children and adults can enjoy and share some fun together. around the perimeter of the housing the design team has suggested a single roadway for car and small van use only. the architects would look to promote cycling by designing in short-cut routes for pedal pushers.

masterplan orbital living — view of the top tier

the iceberg scenario concept for tiered eco city

tiered eco city’s conceptual location in yilong, china

yilong tiers diagram

masterplan of ‘tiered eco city’




designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: apostolos costarangos | designboom

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    502,518 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample