Finally, we are getting somewhere with all this digital revolution. Even though we have computers for more than half a century and internet became a key element of our lives, there is almost no physical change in our environment. Sure, we have better, bigger, glassier buildings, new gadgets, but we are still essentially building same buildings as in pre-internet era. We did not really invent a lot of new building typologies or radically new materials. But up until now every new technology played a huge role in our cities. For example, just have a look at these photos from Stockholm and New York from early XX century. An emerging telephone technology radically transformed city-scapes with infinite amount of lines.
Today probably the biggest influence to our physical environment coming from internet are data centers. That’s something which we did not have before, however these structures are not that exciting, from the outside they look like ordinary warehouses. Unlike early phones, Internet is intangible and it is destined to play only intangible role in our physical environment. That was common understanding, up until now.
Amazon just came up with an idea of a drone skyscraper. Well, ok, they did not come up with it, they patented it. And it is a big deal, because we just learned two things. Firstly, you, apparently, can patent a building typology. Secondly, we have a chance to see some truly internet era buildings appearing in our cities.
In 1939 Frank Lloyd Wright patented his dwelling, in 2017 Amazon patented a drone skyscraper.
Patent for “Multi-level fulfilment center for unmanned aerial vehicles” is describing a drone tower placed “possibly in an urban setting, such as in a densely populated area”. It is too early to know if it will ever become real, however this patent shows that big IT companies are really interested in transforming our physical environment – a job which was considered to be architects responsibility.