When only the Sky’s the Limit

When only the Sky’s the Limit


Mankind is running out of space, and constructions above ground have static issues. This is why the BNKR architects go deep down below.

If you believe the forecasts made by the United Nations, in 2030 about eight billion people will live on this world. More than 60% of them, which means about five billion, will live in cities. The earth’s dry land surface is 29,3%, a large part of it is desert and thus not inhabitable. Thus, mankind is facing space problems. Currently, stacking residential and work rooms on top of each other has reached a new peak with Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Architect Adrian Smith has designed and realized a 792.48 m high skyscraper there. 

The Limits of Growth

From a certain point people cannot be stacked on top each other anymore, this will probably be the limits of building above ground. Now, the clever architects of BNKR Arquitectura enter the scene. They went the opposite way and designed Earthscraper. Inspired by the pyramids of the Aztecs, the architects have planned a building which will bury itself into the ground for 300 meters. And this in a city where building turns into a special challenge: in Mexico City.

Right in the middle of Mexico City, at the Plaza de la Constituction, surrounded by the cathedral, the national palace and the Distrito Federal, the below-surface building is planned to get built, according to BNKR Arquitectura. Due to the constructional restrictions made by the local authorities, no building is allowed to be higher than nine floors. However, the authorities do not say anything about depth, this is what the BNKR architects took advantage of. The building code lays down that historical structures need to be protected and must not be altered. But also for this problem the BNKR architects have found a solution. The “roof” of Earthscraper is made of glass, and the original shape of the 57,000 m² square will hardly change. Even a flag pole will not be removed. 

Challenges of the Future

But not only the regulations made by the authorities are a challenge for the BNKR architects. A bigger problem could turn out to be the geographical location of Mexico City. The city’s ground water level is at a depth of 165 meters. The city is located in the Valley of Mexico, the surrounding mountains fill it with water, which was even intensified through clearing in past years. So how can the ground water level come to terms with the building depth? The architects simply integrate the water into the building. This way, turbines could use the tapped ground water and the waste water for generating energy.

Another problem are earthquakes. Regularly, respective instruments measure low to medium-level erosions. The planners believe the pyramid-like shape of Earthscraper to be an advantage. They are convinced: It will be able to withstand the earth’s pressure, which should also be a good precondition for withstanding earthquakes. Light inside the rooms is also guaranteed: The shape of the below-ground building makes sure that daylight will be able to reach all 66 floors. Additionally, the light coming in could be intensified through glass fibers inside the building material.

Spread across 66 floors, 10 floors each are planned to be reserved for apartments, shops and a museum. The lower 35 floors will house offices. All in all about 100,000 people are supposed to live, do shopping and work inside Earthscraper. And another problem awaits: How can people get evacuated in case of fire? The architects have thought about this as well. Lifts, serving as walkable panoramic platforms at various heights during normal operation, are supposed to get the users from the lower floors up to the surface. 

Hence, design and planning of the innovative “high-rise” are characterized by many ifs and obstacles – and far from being approved by the local authorities. “Currently, the project is in a stage of research and speculation. According to our estimations, construction would take five years, maybe longer, since this kind of constructing is very experimental.“ architect Esteban Suarez says. But weren’t all skyscrapers once considered experimental and intimidating at the beginning of the 20th century?

Project details


BNKR Arquitectura, Mexico


Completion: unknown

In planning


Depth: 300 meters


You need to login or register to post comments.
This comment will automatically be synchronized on social networks.
pepdeal's picture
pepdeal 1. September 2013 - 15:19

Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged. Buy Soundcloud Followers

llfljb7's picture
llfljb7 4. March 2014 - 10:54

I would like to thank you for your nicely written post, its informative and your writing style encouraged me to read it till end

Zoe.Scarfe's picture
Zoe.Scarfe 22. June 2016 - 14:45

This is an unique concept which they are trying, hopefully it would help solve the accommodation issue. For any kind of construction one should only hire the most reputed name in the field. If you need Minneapolis concrete contractors then you should only hire Asphalt Driveway Company Inc.