Although futuristic in scope, a proposed new mode of transportation also mimics nature.
Nigel Reading, a sustainable architect and designer and the design director of Asynsis Architecture + Design, is tackling a project that entails two decades of design theory and research—one designed to solve multiple issues. His “Metaloop” model envisions residents transporting around cities in the same fashion that blood and nutrients flow throughout the human form.
Transport systems in some ways do liken the human respiratory system, with main roads deemed “arterial roads”. Yet like their human counterparts, arterial roads can get clogged and jammed.
Similar to a monorail, the Metaloop most literally rises above ground congestion in the form of a fancy structure that likens a plant. Its first platform is intended for walkers, the second for bicyclists, and the third for autonomous vehicles transporting people to their intended destinations, at pace.
These travel pods would boast retractable wheels that would permit door to door service, attaching onto the central transit system so they can flow nice and easy above the network of ground traffic.
Pedestrians, cyclists and pods would reach the platforms via ramps and stairways, says Reading. No conventional stations are needed, and transportation becomes faster and fluid. The system as a whole would be culled from aluminium and steel, and perhaps also cross laminated engineered timber.
He envisions the repurposing of industrial zones to construct the modular poles and bridges that can be built onsite. This form of building repurposing is already happening in abandoned industrial sites, with the onetime Holden factory in Adelaide now a site for home battery assembly.
By taking transportation literally above ground, the ground below would remain undisturbed by the flow of transport.
Only flying cars would prove more efficient, says the architect; but with few landing spots and numerous possible insurance issues to contend with, this mode of transport remains unlikely for the general population.
The model is drawing support from Australian governments, transport agencies, the Future Cities Collaborative Research Centre, and both energy and transit sectors, including global market-leading vehicle manufacturers.
The Metaloop draws inspiration from a newly minted physics concept called “constructal theory”; the concept that “flow” structures inherent in nature, like veins in bodies or water in rivers, are the most efficient manners of utilising limited energy and resources.
It draws from the divine inspirations of evolution and Mother Nature—interconnecting the earthly flows of resources and energy into the transit system and powered by sources of renewable energy. Transport sites also would be connected with areas of sustainable food production.
As people, energy and resources flow seamlessly together, their host cities become decarbonised and decongested. The lines of transport would run above a city’s primary congestion points at the onset of the plan, with mass expansion to follow.
Yet the Metaloop concept will only be realised, says Reading, if both public and private organisations unite in an organisational consortium. The interconnected systems might be funded via green bonds and managed by a government-owned operator and depend on food producers and electricity utilities. And aside from sustainability, the pods would produce five streams of revenue: Autonomous vehicle fares, the generation of renewable energy, the production of food, ad revenue and data sale.
Altogether, says Reading, Metaloop would make communities move—and flourish.