The drone future
In a never-ending poursuit of a better future, which mesures, inventions and decisions could prove themselves to be the most effective and make a considerable impact? The role of architects shouldn’t be underestimated: more and more projects on huge scales are being launched, all of them orientated towards the resolution of global problems. One of them concerns a construction of cargo drone routes in Africa. The project, which is a collaboration between Redline partners, such as Afrotech, École polythenique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Norman Foster Foundation, proposes the droneport as a solution to infrastructural problem in Africa.
Lack of roads constitutes a huge obstacle for the economic growth of the countries as well as for the improvement of life conditions. As insists the architect Norman Foster, “Africa is the continent where the gap between the population and infrastructural growth is increasing expotentially” so it is necessary to think of urgent solutions, and more importantly, efficient solutions. The response of the team is the concept of drones which could carry blood and other life-saving supplies over 100 kilometres at minimal cost (the project emphasizes the fact that every year 450, 000 people die from Malaria and 100, 000 from Sickle Cell disease, and huge percentage of these deaths are due to lack of blood). As it would require an enormous (if not impossible) effort to build the routes to satisfy the needs of the rapidly growing population, the use of air space and drones would do “more with less” (as in words of sir Norman Foster).
Two networks would be used for diferent concerns: one for carrying life-saving supplies (Redline) and another one for commercial use (Blueline). The first destination of a droneport chosen is the country of Rwanda. The initial plan for three buildings should be completed by 2020.
How would such an airport look like? Already having much experience with building airports, the Foster + Company project sets themselves a new challenge with the droneport conception. The materials needed for a station, such as clay and boulders can be found in local sources so the expenses of transportation could be avoided. In addition, the structure can be easily built by the local people – the initiators of the project hope that people, once having the knowledge of building the droneports, could also contribute to promising inventions in the future. The station wouldn’t be only a place for the landing of drones – a health clinic, digital fabrication shop, a post and courier room, e-commerce trading tub would play an equal part in the importance of the station in the improvement of local life.