Plans For Futuristic Underground “Skyscraper” Beneath Mexico City’s Zócalo

“A great science fiction detective story” – Ian Watson, author of The Universal Machine
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Mexico City is incredibly populous and is in desperate need of downtown living and work space.  It’s options are limited, however, by the number of historic sites in the downtown core (pretty much everything) and by a legal height limit of eight storeys for buildings in the city.

The solution?  BKNR Arquitectura plans to dig down rather than building up.  They recently shared conceptual drawings for a — well, whatever the opposite of “skyscraper” is. News items are referring to the planned building as an “underground skyscraper,” but that’s just that’s just a contradiction in terms.  BNKR themselves are referring to it as an “earthscraper,” but guys, this building doesn’t scrape the earth, it bores into it.  I think the moment is ripe for a neologism.

Conceptual drawing of the "earthscraper"

Conceptual drawing of the "earthscraper"

The underground building is a solution that’s been proposed in other circumstances before, including as a use for depleted opn pit mines.

I think the building looks beautiful, and as a science fiction fan I can’t help loving the sheer 1970s-sci-fi look of the thing.  It’s kind of the like the dome in Logan’s Run, only better.

A top-down view

A top-down view

The subterranean building will have ten storeys each for homes, shops and a museum, as well as thirty-five storeys for offices, and it will also house a new cultural centre.  Its inverted pyramid design is intended to simply look awesome be earthquake resistant.

All that being said, the BKNR team plans to put its masterpiece dead in the middle of the Zócalo (or Plaza de la Constitución), the central city sqaure that forms the hub of the Distrito Federal and that is bordered by the city’s cathedral and the National Palace, among other landmarks.

Beneath the Zócalo

Beneath the Zócalo

The Zócalo has been a gathering place since the days of the Mexica empire (also known as Aztec) times and these days hosts pretty much every protest that takes place in the city (including a long-term one that I attended after the controversial 2006 presidential election).  It seems an odd place to situate a massive hole in the ground that has as one of its goals the preservation of historic site.

Now, the hole would be covered by a glass floor (240m x 240m) in order to allow people to continue to congregate in the square while also allowing natural light to filter in from the world above.

A night view

A night view

Will it ever happen?  We’re not sure.  Apparently the mayor has so far refused to even review the plans.  On the other hand, mayors only last so long, while cunning plans for underground buildings can lie in wait forever.

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