Desert mirages usually come in the form of water, not a rock—nor an entire city.
French firms Manal Rachdi OXO Architects and Nicolas Laisné Associés dispel that notion with its latest concept—"City Sand Tower," currently a virtual and in futurity a vertical city in Morocco’s Sahara Desert. You can never fault people (even architects) for wanting to play in a sandbox.
From a distance, the conceptual city’s main structure (dubbed “La Ville Tour des Sables”) resembles a monumental rock over a vast sandy landscape before emerging as mixed-use architectural wonder that includes a hotel, housing, restaurants, an enormous interior pool, hanging gardens, a desert museum, meteorological observatory, and even rooftop helicopter landing pads. Closer inspection reveals a massive maze of interconnected street bazaar souks, ideal for exotic shopping.
The huge ground-level flow pool is the tower’s interior centerpiece, reflecting live trees, beam-patterned sunrays, and the vegetation-covered atrium and waterfalls high above. Another large lap pool occupies the upper floor space. The rooftop is equipped with shelves for several helicopter landing areas. Mini sand tower substructures pop-up at various points throughout the city street bazaars.
At 450 meters high, the 780,000-square-meter complex is designed to meet the demands of desert life. According to Design Boom, various spaces to "play, pray, and swim" highlight the upper floors where panoramic views are sweeping (although we’re not sure what can be viewed in a vast desert, aside from mirages and "simoom" sandstorms). However, the City Sand Tower illuminates at night.
If "30 Rock" attracts visitors to New York's concrete jungle, perhaps this Morocco mirage rock can attract desert dwellers. City Sand Tower is between a rock and a hard place, but it's still the biggest sandbox in the world.