The future of travel, a.k.a., the hyperloop, is coming to Dubai, and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is plating it in chrome. The designers behind New York City's Two World Trade Center and Copenhagen's ring-blowing smokestacks have signed a deal with engineering company Hyperloop One and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to determine the look and feel for the proposed transit line to Abu Dhabi.
Hyperloop One is one of two companies working to make real Space X and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk's designs for a super-fast transport system. Their technology combines vacuum-sealed tunnels and magnetic levitation to shoot pods from Point A to Point B at up to 700 mph. Musk describes the process as, "a cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table." Hyperloop One advertises a 30-minute ride from San Franscisco to Los Angeles, and BIG says their proposal for the United Arab Emirates would cut a two hour drive from downtown Dubai to Abu Dhabi to a 12-minute ride. For context, that's quicker than taking the NYC subway from Williamsburg to Times Square. Here's a video explaining how it would work.
"Together with BIG, we have worked on a seamless experience that starts the moment you think about being somewhere—not going somewhere,” explains Josh Giegel, president of engineering at Hyperloop One. “We don’t sell cars, boats, trains, or planes. We sell time.”
BIG imagines the futuristic transportation system in the trappings of a utopian sci-fi flick. The raised tunnels are encased in perfectly mirrored surfaces, passenger pods are decorated with tasteful minimalist furniture, and screens simulating "windows" cover the walls with stunning landscapes along the way. Their concept art includes self-driving cars which can pick up and drop off passengers on the way to and from the super-speed tunnel.
"With Hyperloop One we have given form to a mobility ecosystem of pods and portals, where the waiting hall has vanished along with waiting itself," says Bjarke Ingels. "We are heading for a future where our mental map of the city is completely reconfigured, as our habitual understanding of distance and proximity—time and space—is warped by this virgin form of travel.”
Hyperloop One CEO said at an event earlier today that the system could be completed by 2021, depending on when the Dubai RTA gives the green light. While these promises sound cherry-picked from futurist fiction, BIG partner Jakob Lange maintains that the Hyperloop is happening. "We are not waiting for new technology to realize it," he says. "We have everything we need.“