Higher Ground

Higher Ground

Dezeen 'Redesign the world' competition 

Third Place Winner

The history of human evolution changed its course when our primate ancestors came down from the trees to live and hunt on the open plains. These early humans then began to domesticate various plants and animals, kickstarting the change from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement.

This pivotal change would later see agricultural and industrial revolutions irreversibly damage large areas of the natural world; creating destruction, degradation and fragmentation of long-established habitats and biodiversity.

This speculative proposal considers: what if we had never left the trees? What if instead of damaging and destroying precious areas of land, we had left the earth's surface untouched, and instead built high above the ground? What if communities could thrive elevated above sacred landscapes, akin to our treetop dwelling ancestors?

In this vision, all human activity takes place high above the land, amongst the canopy of the trees.

Taking direct reference from nature, an organic architectural language evolves, one that works in harmony with this natural order.

Connections with the ground are made lightly on slender columns, blending in with the trunks of the trees. This ensures minimal impact is made to the ground, resulting in dramatic elegant forms floating towards the clouds.

Water, seen as the most precious resource, is designed to be stored in these towering structures. At these great heights, the stored water has potential energy, for use in the generation of power as well as hydroponic systems for plants.

Agriculture is limited to the cultivation of crops, all of which takes place in large elevated planters. This eliminates the significant impact agriculture has on large areas of the land and ensures a controlled supply of food.

"A profound respect and religious worship of the natural order takes precedence over any other god or religious deity, thus ensuring a constant level of care and devotion to the environment; seeing it as a duty to act as guardians of the Earth's flora and fauna.

"This resulting proposal offers an alternative vision of humankind, with thriving communities elevated in beautiful landscapes, working with the forces of nature, to ensure a long and lasting environment on Earth."