Aircruise: the future of luxury travel?

Aircruise concept designLondon-based design group Seymourpowell, in conjunction with Samsung Construction and Trading (C&T), have released some very interesting and original design plans for the ‘Aircruise’ project – a new mode of transportation which is essentially a floating apartment block.  The designs are causing some interesting reactions, and certainly gaining the kind of press that they were seeking, if only because the concept is a highly original one when we consider our current modes of transportation.

To begin with, the Aircruise is not intended to be a fast mode of transportation; but rather one that promotes luxury and comfort.  Nick Talbot, design director at Seymourpowell, stated in their press release today that “the Aircruise concept questions whether the future of luxury travel should be based around space-constrained, resource hungry, and all too often stressful airline travel. A more serene transport experience will appeal to people looking for a more reflective journey, where the experience of travel itself is more important than getting from A to B quickly.

The design certainly isn’t one for the egalitarian, and is quite obviously targeted at the ultra-rich who wish to flaunt their opulence whilst floating above the cities they choose to visit.  Like a monolith to capitalist decadence, the Aircruise will hang over the urban landscape – reminding all those below that they are not worthy to travel in such a manner.

Although this might just be a pessimistic way of looking at the concept, one can’t help but think that its initial target demographic lies amongst the same kinds of individuals who can afford trips of Virgin Galactic rather than Ryanair.  As an exercise in creative thinking, it is certainly one that creates cause for thought and pushes into some new areas; but the successful commercial implementation of such a project would surely only benefit an incredibly small portion of the world’s population.

However, when looked at from a long-term perspective, the concept begins to have more merit beyond just being a new playground for the ultra-rich.  Because the Aircruise would operate on a combination of hydrogen and solar power, it would offer substantial improvements when it comes to environmental impact of long-distance travel.  The concept could be adapted from just servicing a few people to having far more wide reaching implications for the way we view travel and even more generally the sustainability of buildings on ground-level.

Seung Min Kim, design director at Samsung C&T commented, “This was a dream concept project for us, helping to realise a future of sustainable buildings combined with innovative and luxury lifestyle. In an age when environmental impact is a key consideration for architecture, we are keen to extend this vision of the future by searching for solutions that can be realised by 2015 – the year that many futurologists foresee as the turning point for the future.”

What do you think of the Aircruise?  Would you like to see them put into action within this coming decade?  Could they ever replace air travel completely?  Beyond merely travel, might the concept of floating cities be a way forwards in the distant future?  I’m fascinated to hear what you think about this one!


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