Skyscrapers On Wheels Would Roll Away From Urban Decay

What if a whole city could just pick up and move?

Pruitt–Igoe was a massive St. Louis housing project built in the 1950s. Designed by Minoru Yamasaki–who you may know better for designing the World Trade Center–it was a housing project of epic proportions, comprised of 33 high-rise structures built for white and black middle class urbanites on the tail end of the city’s segregated housing laws. But within a decade of its construction, the property was misused into complete disrepair. Within two decades, it was torn down. Pruitt–Igoe became a symbol of failure in civic planning.

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Pruitt–Igoe was also the inspiration for these Migrant Skyscrapers. Designed by Damian and Rafał Przybyła, they’re three-story, self-sufficient housing facilities (complete with agricultural and water management systems), all wrapped up in a giant rubber tire. Before you ask how these structures could possibly work, realize that they’re a concept to solve a bigger idea in architecture: How do you plan for the unplannable?

In this sense, Migrant Skyscrapers are the antithesis for the planned community, which is why they’re cruising by a backdrop of Pruitt–Igoe in the background of the lead shot.

“We live in the world which is driven by extremes. Reality is becoming dramatically less predictable and more improbable nowadays than any time before,” designer Damian Przybyła tells Co.Design. “Architecture has to assure a possibility to act in response to highly improbable reality, and events which are to come.”

Be they natural disasters or social upheavals, Migrant Skyscrapers would enable a “spontaneous, dynamic and free-willed creation of space, and social groups.” The world would become one big collection of suburbanite biker gangs. Imagine a real estate bubble if all of the houses were mobile–it couldn’t happen–but there would be some very long lines for beachfront property parking.

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“The Migrant Skyscraper is to be a manifesto of individuality, an architecture solution that underlies so called ‘mass individualism,’” writes Przybyła. “Everyone is different, has their own dreams and great possibilities–and this assumption should be an integral part of architecture design.”

Of course, as crazy and unique as these self-sufficient Migrant Skyscrapers may seem at first glance, we do have a form of architecture that’ll get you 90% of the way there, today. Because of gas prices, a lot of used models are on the market, and they’re far less likely to tip over than a one-wheeler. We call them Winnebagos.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.