Designers have provided a glimpse into the future of urban architecture: AI-generated inflatable skyscrapers.
The buildings are the brainchild of Zumoa barcelonabased architectural practice. Founded in 2020 by Andre Sashko and Alessandro Lussignoli, the company combines classical knowledge and contemporary technology to visualize new forms of construction.
Their latest project adds Midjourney to the art of architecture. Zumo used the text-to-image model to visualize the shaky buildings in urban environments.
First published by Design Boom, the images show the superstructure towering over future cities. To my unsullied eyes, they look like illuminated balloons flying into the skyline. But my coarser colleagues likened them to giant condoms.
You can draw your own analogies after scrolling through the gallery below:
There is inevitably a sustainability component to the project. As inflatables, the buildings can be inflated to great heights, flattened for transport, and rebuilt in locations where they are needed. Be sure to dispose of all sharp objects before entering.
They’re powered by renewable energy and also have a smaller carbon footprint – which could come in handy if they were real. One day maybe they will be.
AI is taking over architecture
Zumo’s buildings may be fake, but AI is already playing a role in designing real buildings. Zaha Hadid Architects, for example, recently revealed that it uses text-to-image generators to produce ideas for “most” of its projects.
Although popular, the practice proves divisive. Supporters argue AI can provide new inspiration, involve customers in the design process and replace menial tasks. But critics say the systems target certain architectural and visual styles.
There is also a wider concern about the threat to human designers. In January, three artists turned the issue into a class action lawsuit. The claim plaintiffs that Stability AI, DeviantArt and Midjourney have violated the rights of “millions of artists” by remixing their copyrighted works.
These companies, the case argues, train their tools on images scraped from the internet without permission from the creators. It’s hardly a controversial claim – the founder of Midjourney has admitted the exercise.
Inspired by the original artwork, the systems now pump out endless AI-generated images – at a profit. No doubt they steal both past and future work from artists. But if they can offer a glorious future living in condoms, it might be justifiable.