The city that never stands still...literally

Chris Hall

Science fiction author Philip Reeve used his Mortal Engines series to describe a future in which countries have been destroyed, and civilisation roams the Earth on enormous mechanised cities, running on enormous caterpillar tracks.

Now a Spanish architectural student has proposed exactly the same idea - albeit without the catalyst of apocalyptic destruction.

Manuel Dominguez, a student at the Superior Technical School of Architecture (ETSA) in Madrid, decided to use his thesis project as an opportunity to explore something a little bit more far-fetched than the average architectural concept.

The mobile cities - which he has named 'Very Large Structures' - would be totally sustainable, and capable of moving across the countryside in search of jobs or natural resources.

'I wanted to built territorial management between matter and energy, that will bring several positive effects,' Mr Dominguez told MailOnline.

'These include re-equilibrating the population between rural and cities, environment renewal and offering new employment.'

The structures would include schools, shops, hospitals and housing, and would generate their own power. A steel frame mounted on enormous caterpillar tracks would enable the platform to move around.

Mr Dominguez said that although he recognised the 'utopic' nature of the proposal, he believes it is theoretically possible to build his design. 'Even though I am very attracted to science fiction and utopical and distopical architecture, I was more interested in investigating real life technology,'  he said.

'These included open-air mining machinery, shipyard installations, logistic and management in super-ports and super vessels, space technology and  eco-villages.'

'I think it could exist some day maybe at other scale,' added Mr Dominguez.

'Maybe in the way it relates and deals with territory, maybe the way in which we built and think about architecture and urbanism, maybe in the way we manage energy and waste.'

Nomadic cities were proposed by English architect Ron Herron in the 1960s, as part of the Archigram group. His Walking City consisted of a robotic structure with artificial intelligence that would join up with other cities to form a wandering metropolis, which would disperse when resources ran out.