Architect Tiago Barros proposes an intriguing new travel concept that would really slow things down: The Passing Cloud.
For those who saw the Pixar hit Up, the concept may sound familiar. Passengers float up into the sky and drift over the Earth.
In a world where everything operates at hyper-speeds, Barros has come up with a luxurious form of slow travel: a giant inflatable cloud that can travel from place to place, riding on the predominant winds.
Oddly enough, the design proposal was an entry in a competition for a high-speed rail network, called Life at the Speed of Rail, organized by Van Alen Institute and partly funded by the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City.
Though the entry has nothing to do with railways, it does provoke an interesting discussion about travel. Here's a look at the designer's vision of what the future of air travel may look like:
This project envisions a distinct approach towards moving around the United States being also a revival of the act of traveling. Why traveling at high speed? Why having the final destiny always defined? And why always departing and arriving on a tight schedule? Nowadays, everything is set and everyone is always running around. It is time to reconsider the act of traveling and start enjoying it accordingly.
The cloud structure would be made of a series of spherical balloons that form the shape of a cloud. Its inner stainless steel structure would be covered with heavyweight tensile nylon fabric and, during the journey, it would move according to prevailing winds, offering the passengers a full floating sensation.
The Passing Cloud is a nod to the Zeppelin's of the early 20th century. Though it did not win the Life at the Speed of Rail competition, is has provoked a lively discussion - which is exactly what Barros intended.
I created it to provoke a dialogue and provoke a new idea, Barros told the International Business Times. Traveling is always the same. It's always about the idea of arriving somewhere.
Barros imagines something totally different, something akin to the old saying it's not about the destination, it's about the journey.
How could traveling be the essence of a vacation or moving from point A to point B? You would have no idea where it would land next - completely! So, there is no arrival or departure time. It's about enjoying the actual trip.
In essence, the cloud itself becomes the destination and the landscape below the entertainment.
Why would Barros enter his Passing Cloud in a competition for high speed trains?
I think it was the perfect solution for a problem that is the high speed train, Barros said. The government wants to build all over the U.S. and slice up different portions of land. It would create jobs, but also a carbon footprint.
While the concept isn't efficient, punctual, or common-sensical, that's the point. Though the Passing Cloud may not be a feasible alternative to the transport status quo as it is, it does offer an airy argument for the need for cheaper, energy-efficient and green alternatives. It's also a much needed reminder to 21st century travelers. Slow down, and enjoy the ride!
You can see more of Tiago Barros' work at his Web site: http://www.tiagobarros.eu/