In the near future, UAVs, personal aircraft and air taxis may become a part of our daily life. Drones and air taxis will create new mobility and transport routes. With the development of UAV to automation, UAV will be used in surveillance, goods delivery, construction and so on.
The introduction of these aircraft into the city will require great changes in the architectural environment. UAVs and other new aircraft will require new landing platforms, charging points and UAV ports. They will lead new architectural styles and lead to more sustainable new architectural designs.
Relevant research discusses the impact of aircraft on urban design, and draws the possible trajectory in the future.
Civil UAVs vary greatly in size and complexity. They can carry a range of products from high-resolution cameras, transmission equipment and speakers to thermal imaging equipment and scanners. In the public sector, UAVs are used for disaster emergency rescue, police fire fighting, logistics mapping and so on.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the police used drones to implement blockade; Drones commonly used in agriculture spray disinfectants over cities. In the UK, drones are also experimenting with transporting medical supplies to the Isle of Wight.
In addition to UAVs, our future cities will also have vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL), which can be used as private vehicles and air taxis.
Science fiction fans are familiar with these tools – the late Cindy Mead’s vertical takeoff and landing UFO captured the public’s imagination in the film blade runner. But now, these aircraft have become or will become a reality. Many companies are developing the electric multi rotor jet evtol and organizing a new UAV racing competition.
These planes have the potential to change our city. However, they require extensive testing in urban airspace. A study conducted by Airbus found that public concerns about the use of vertical takeoff and landing aircraft mainly focused on the safety and noise of ground takeoff and landing.
The wide application of UAV and VTOL will bring new architecture and infrastructure. Existing buildings will need to be transformed: landing pads, solar photovoltaic panels to improve energy efficiency, charging stations for express UAVs, and landscape design to reduce noise emissions.
Many companies are already experimenting with drone delivery services. Existing buildings need to be transformed to adapt to these new networks, and new design principles must be implemented in future buildings.
Architect Saul ajuria Fernandez designed a UAV port transportation center. The drone port is like a beehive, where drones charge and collect packages for distribution. Pier 2 of Humphreys & partners, a construction company, is designed for future modular apartment buildings, including a cantilevered UAV port to provide delivery services.
The Norman Foster foundation designed a drone port to transport medical supplies and other items to rural communities in Rwanda. The structure is also intended to serve as a public gathering space and receive training in robotics.
UAVs can also help urban environments become more sustainable. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart have developed a reconfigurable UAV roof canopy system. By adjusting according to the direction of the sun, the ceiling provides shade to reduce the dependence on the ventilation system.
Where other transport systems fail, the demand for air taxis and personal aircraft will increase. Airbus’s research found that among the surveyed cities, Los Angeles and Mexico City have the largest demand for vtols, which are famous for traffic pollution. In order to accommodate these aircraft, urban space will need to be transformed, including landing platforms, airport like infrastructure and charging points.
In addition, in the lower airspace (below 500 feet), that is, the so-called “hovering space”, the whole logistics system will need an urban traffic management system. A good example of how a suspended space works can be seen in the UAV flight project of superflux design studio. Many UAVs with different functions move around urban areas in a network and run along different paths at different heights.
We are at a critical period in urban history, facing climate collapse and epidemics. UAVs and air vehicles can be part of a profound reflection on the urban environment.
Responsible editor: GT