Airship Hotel

by wjw on February 4, 2010

This is a hoax. (Despite what you may have seen on CNN.) This is only a hoax. (Despite what you may have read in the Daily Telegraph.)

Do not consume except with a dose of salt.

If they built this thing, they would have no way of controlling it and it would crash and kill everyone in a giant hydrogen explosion.

But it is purty, no?

Ty February 5, 2010 at 12:41 am


My cousin's boyfriend's brother bought one of these for $50 from a guy who was getting a divorce!

This is totally true, I swear!

Ken Thomas February 5, 2010 at 3:18 am

Oh, the inhumanity.

S.M. Stirling February 5, 2010 at 3:49 am

Looks perfectly practical to me. Airships, at least German ones, had a good safety record and the Hindenberg only happened because we refused to sell them helium, for which it had been designed.

dubjay February 5, 2010 at 3:52 am

Well, Steve, other than the fact there are no control surfaces or propulsion units, I consider the design flawless!

(And then of course there's the dock, which would rip the hell out of the thing in a high wind. But that's all right, because once free you'd never get it to the dock.)

Ken Thomas February 5, 2010 at 4:27 am

I think propulsion and control is provided by a sort of thermal flow.

The ultra-cool chairs, ultra-cool countertops, ultra-cool bathrooms with ultra-cool faucets, and of course the ultra-cool transhumans who would live in the thing, would naturally chill the interior to ultra-cool temps, allowing you to create propulsion simply by opening and closing ultra-cool doors and ultra-cool windows.

Dan February 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm

A few issues come to mind immediately.

First, the dock idea, as Walter points out, is rather silly. You could try and make it work (flexible mooring setup, putting the dock on pontoons so that it shifted with the hotel itself), but the real question is *why* would you want it to ever dock, or descend? Cargo helicopters suddenly stop working? Hell, if we're worried about the expense of resupplying what is essentially a high-altitude cruise ship, let's build a few smaller dirigibles and use those to resupply, rather than almost literally bringing the mountain to Mohammad.

Second issue is the structure. While, from what I understand, the shape of the airship doesn't matter much as far as lift goes, we'd be in huge difficulties if we actually tried to manouever. The aerodynamics suddenly matter when you're looking at gusts of wind at altitudes of a few hundred metres, acting on a surface area of, say, 10,000 sq. m. (I assumed base width of 50m and height of 200m) This thing would obey direction about as well as a 60-storey skyscraper.

We really shouldn't talk about what happens when an unexpected storm hits this thing, much less a hurricane.

I'm going to do some handwaving and dismiss the lack of visible propulsion devices as really carefully chosen camera angles.

My final issue is with the 3d models used in the video. That's not ultra-cool, that's lazy (or limited budget) modelling. If there's such a thing as an uncanny valley for inanimate objects, this is it. Keep in mind that with modern 3d modelling software, clean lines and pretty curves are *easy*. It's the irregularities, the small detail that is hard to do.

For far better quality work, look at Stonemason's portfolio. All he has posted now are stills, but here is a video, though in a less directly relevant setting.

Final quibble: Look at 3:37 in the video. So which is it, Ramien or Raemian?

Michael Grosberg February 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I think "hoax" is too strong a word, as the design firm who came up with the concept doesn't claim it's possible or ever going to be built. The airship hotel is a case study by product design firm Seymour Powell. Product designers do all kinds of wacky futuristic stuff for fun, such as hotels on the moon, mile-high skyscrapers, holographic computers or flying cars. They are just as much a "hoax" as your own works are!

Anonymous February 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Heres a link to add to your posting to support what you say:

Ralf the Dog February 10, 2010 at 1:46 am

The design was bad but the concept is good.

1. Make it more of a delta shape.

2. Put the hydrogen in tubes (like they did) put the tubes in a larger bag, fill the larger bag with helium. This will give you most of the cost and lift advantage of hydrogen but the layer of helium will help keep the o2 away from the gas that goes boom. (Note: Helium is expensive and has half the lifting power of hydrogen.)

3. You can either make the bags out of a transparent material and get a better view (Sun bathing on the upper deck), or you can make the top of the bag out of a photovoltaic plastic and use it for power.

4. Don't forget the escape pods.

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