Members of the Bombardier family have been coming up with crazy transportation ideas for 80 years, usually pesky things the Ski-doo and the Sea-doo. Now Charles Bombardier, described in Wired as a visionary “at his best when he ignores pesky things like budgets, timelines, and contemporary physics”, tells us that architects, planners and developers should get ready for the drone revolution.
Drones are coming, and they’re going to change a lot of things about how we shape our lives. So why shouldn’t we change how we shape our buildings to get ready for them? Early adopters will probably buy personal flying vehicles in the not too distant future. Some models are being developed as we speak. Maybe an innovative architectural firm will even pitch the idea of building a ‘drone-ready’ condo tower.
In collaboration with designer Ashish Thulkar, Bombardier proposes special drone balconies for each unit that could accommodate small electric aircraft as well, with retractable handrails so that they could act as balconies too. You wouldn’t own the drone so it wouldn’t be taking up space all the time; it would be shared, an autonomous vehicle that you would call up when needed.
My first reaction was that this was a dumb idea in an apartment building; since people are used to sharing everything from mailrooms to garbage rooms in apartments, why not share a rooftop drone or flying car landing pad? But Bombardier notes that this has bigger implications on building design:
Large balconies are always welcome in swanky condos, but they could be so much more if they obliterated your need to use the stairs or elevator, or to even get in a car or subway to reach your office tower.
That is an interesting idea, given how much space in a building is lost to circulation, to stairs, corridors and elevators. It makes some sense too, given that most of horizontal America is used to driving straight into their garages. if we have people-carrying drones, why not do the same thing for vertical America?
On the other hand, up until now we’ve had to live with annoying yellow Sea-doos and Ski-doos in the country, and Bombardier jets threatening to land in the middle of the city; now I have to worry about little yellow Air-doos landing on every balcony. More in Wired.
Another smart and crazy person once said “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” I think we were probably lucky for a while, but those flying cars are coming sooner than we think.