Plans Proposed for $400B American City


Billionaire and former Walmart executive Marc Lore has recently unveiled plans for a five-million-person, $400 billion sustainable city he hopes to have built somewhere within the American desert.


According to reports, Lore has appointed architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group to design the metropolis, dubbed “Telosa.


About Telosa


Deriving from the ancient Greek work “telos,” which was used by Aristotle when describing an inherent or higher purpose, Lore reports that the innovative city is more than just a design, but revolution for transparent governance and a “new model for society.”


Those living in Telosa, Lore reports, would be allowed to participate in the city’s decision-making and budgeting process. In addition, a community endowment would offer residents shared ownership of the land.


With plans to be built from scratch, Telosa is projected to be built over the next 40 years and is composed of eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a drought-resistant water system. 


Once completed, the city will be able to house five million people over a 150,000-acre site in what Lore calls a “15-minute city design”–meaning that residents living within the city will be able to access workplaces, schools and amenities within a quarter-hour commute of their homes.

At the time of the project’s announcement, BIG released several renderings of what the city could look like, revealing prioritized streets for bikes and pedestrians, autonomous cars, as well as residential and commercial buildings covered in greenery.


In order to achieve the city’s San Francisco-like living density (roughly 33 people residing per acre), the masterplan offers “diverse housing options” accessible for all. The designs also reveal abundant green spaces, public spaces, training centers, cultural institutions and retail.


The heart of the city, however, is what’s being called the Equitism Tower. The beacon of the city is slated to house elevated water storage, aeroponic farms and an energy-producing photovoltaic roof.


“The mission of Telosa is to create more equitable and sustainable future,” said Lore. “What we are trying to is to combine some sort of the best of different cities of the world bringing together. So if you can think about Telosa being as vibrant and diverse as a New York city, combined with efficiency, safety and clever city like Tokyo.”


Although Lore has yet to confirm funding for the $400 billion project, project organizers report that the project plans to receive funding from “various sources,” such as private investors, philanthropists, a combination of federal and state grants, and economic development subsidies.


In terms of location, planners are also reported to be scouting for potential locations in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas and even parts of the Appalachian region.


The first phase of construction is estimated to cost $25 billion and would accommodate 50,000 residents across 1,500 acres. The project aims to welcome first residents by 2030.


Other BIG Projects


Just last year, BIG was reported to have partnered with ICON, a construction technology developer, and SEArch+, to begin designed a sustainable habitat for the moon.

The project—dubbed Project Olympus—aims to produce structures that provide better thermal, radiation and micrometeorite protection than metal or inflatable habitats.

ICON was tapped by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to test lunar soil stimulants with various printing technologies. The tests will help develop prototypes for a possible additive construction system that could print infrastructure on the moon itself.

The moon-based printer is also being configured to run autonomously with remote instructions from another base or even from Earth.

Earlier that same year, in October, BIG founder Bjarke Ingels told reporters that he had begun drawing up plans for a more sustainable way of living for the world. The project, known as Masterplanet, is intended to be a master plan for the Earth to “prove that a sustainable human presence on planet Earth is attainable with existing technologies.”

The idea arrives after the world witnessed a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making the idea of a worldwide plan possible in the future.

First announced through an interview with TIME magazine, Ingels related that when an architect is developing plans for a city block or neighborhood, they often create a masterplan that identifies issues, proposes solutions and creates a future image of what the end result might look like. The plan also aims to include more complex documents, such as budgets, area tables, system layouts and phasing strategies.

In Masterplanet, Ingels plans to apply this same notion, but to the entire Earth, covering how the planet can cut greenhouse emissions, protect resources and adapt to climate change. However, working on the scale of individual buildings like we’ve seen more recently isn’t enough, according to the architect.

Calculated by Ingels to provide as much as a future population of 10 billion people—an estimated figure due to hit not long after 2050—a high quality of life, the plan divides environmental problems up into 10 sections under two subheadings for handling the issues holistically. Five are covered under greenhouse-gas-emitting sectors and include: transportation, energy, food, industry and waste management, while the other five cover sustainably sectors and include: biodiversity, water, pollution, health, and architecture and urbanism.

In addressing the issues, Ingels reports that the Masterplanet will include ongoing projects—for example, new plastic recycling plants, floating cities to house communities affected by rising sea levels and unifying global electrical grids to help solve unreliable and inconsistent energy production by renewable sources.

While the plan is expected to undergo much criticism, in the future Ingels hopes that a newly installed Prime Minister or BIG CEO might refer to the Masterplanet when they want to address climate issues within a region, and possibly even borrow from or expand on the ideas of the time.

BIG is currently consulting industry experts in energy, waste management, transport and other fields, but is expected to publish a first draft by 2021.

And in April 2019, the architecture firm unveiled plans for a 10,000-resident sustainable floating city that can adapt organically. The proposal was submitted to the first UN high-level roundtable on sustainable floating cities.

Others involved include: floating cities non-profit Oceanix, the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, Center for Zero Waste Design, Transsolar KlimaEngineering, the Global Coral Reef Alliance and other partners

By 2050, 90% of the world’s largest cities will be subject to rising sea levels. Marc Collins Chen, Co-Founder and CEO of OCEANIX, noted that people can live in floating cities in harmony with the sea life below.

According to BIG’s proposal, Oceanix City would be composed of modular neighborhoods, each of which would be 2 hectares. These would, in turn, become self-sustaining communities composed of up to 300 residents. In order to maintain a low center of gravity, structures would not reach more than seven stories tall.

From underneath platforms, biorock floating reefs, seaweed, oysters and other sea life help keep the water clean, along with accelerating the regeneration of the ecosystem. Six neighborhoods situated around a central harbor result in larger, 12-hecatre villages that can house up to 1,650 residents. Social, recreational and commercial options are placed around the sheltered inner ring to encourage community participation and engagement.

Construction material will largely be locally sourced, including fast-growing bamboo, which can be grown in the neighborhoods, that has six times the tensile strength of steel and a negative carbon footprint. Floating cities will also be able to be prefabricated on shore, later being towed to the site. These cities are calibrated to be used in vulnerable tropical and sub-tropical regions.


Tagged categories: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG); Building design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Design; Design - Commercial; NA; North America; Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Sustainability; Upcoming projects

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