Solar-Powered Aircruise Concept Would Be Luxury Cruiser in the Sky

by Staff on February 3, 2010

London-based design and innovation company Seymourpowell has unveiled a remarkable new air transport concept it calls Aircruise ― a giant, vertical airship powered by natural energy and designed to carry travellers in style and luxury.

Originally a self-generated project, Seymourpowell’s Aircruise is a concept design for a hotel in the sky, with low passenger numbers and huge internal spaces offering room for living, dining and relaxing, as well as scope for dramatic public spaces. The initial design proposes a bar/lounge zone, four duplex apartments, a penthouse and five smaller apartments. See Page 2 for a video of how the interior of the Aircruise would look.

In this computer graphic image, Seymourpowell's Aircruise solar-powered luxury airship floats near the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest building

The concept captured the imagination of Korean giant Samsung Construction and Trading (C&T). Driven by its interest in new materials for building, Samsung C&T appointed Seymourpowell to refine the idea and produce a detailed computer animation of the proposed experience to illustrate this visionary approach to the future.

Seymourpowell says its Aircruise concept presents an alternative take on the future, suggesting ‘slow is the new fast’.

“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,” says Nick Talbot, design director at Seymourpowell. “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.”

This is one of Seymourpowell's ideas for an offshore mooring station for its Aircruise luxury-cruiseliner airship concept, which would weigh about 270 tonnes fully laden. Seymourpowell envisages that, including staff and passengers, the Aircruise would carry up to about 100 people in apartment-sized accommodations

On Aircruise, the abundance of time and space defines the luxury experience, according to Seymourpowell, which believes that in a world where speed is an almost universal obsession, the idea of making a leisurely journey in comfort would be a welcome contrast.

“The physics of the airship requires a gigantic volume of lifting gas, yet simultaneously demands a relatively limited amount of weight. This allows for a potentially large amount of space with relatively few people onboard ― a luxury for any traveller,” explains Talbot.

He adds: “It’s a world cruise not limited to the ocean, offering instead the dream-like quality and absolute freedom of flight. Passengers can choose to dine thousands of feet above a city, or take in the view whilst moving through the air over the ocean or a national landmark.”

One way of using Seymourpowell's Aircruise concept for a large, luxury airship might be to tether vehicles above cities with spectacular views. This computer graphic image shows two Aircruise vehicles tethered above Hong Kong, near Victoria Peak

Lifted by hydrogen and powered by solar energy, the Aircruise concept also has obvious environmental benefits, according to Seymourpowell.

“This was a dream concept project for us, helping to realise a future of sustainable buildings combined with innovative and luxury lifestyle, says Seung Min Kim, design director at Samsung C&T. “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.”

Although only a conceptual proposal, the transportation design team at Seymourpowell developed a detailed and achievable technical specification for the craft. See next page for the proposed technical specifications for the Aircruise, and a computer graphic video of its interior.

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