# MILITARIZED ARCHITECTURES /// Heathrow Fortress Airplot. Weightless by Paisajes Emergentes


Two years ago, Greenpeace UK launched an idea competition (see also the video after the break) to fortify the piece of land they acquired in order to prevent a third runway to be built on London Heathrow Airport. The idea was to build an architecture that would prevent the accomplishment of construction. Most teams designed some sort of bunkers (see here and here) or towers (see here), but the Medellin (Columbia) based architecture office Paisajes Emergentes proposed a very peculiar idea whose sense of spectacular is as important as its fragility. In fact, the aerial fortress (one could think of Miyazaki !) Weightless attempt to both block the sky routes and to materialize the environment on the ground with helium balloons. Those balloons are attached on the ground to each entity it represents, animals, houses, water tower etc. The result is a poetic architectural materialization of a political resistance. One could dream of more intervention of this kind…

I highly recommend the exploration of Paisajes Emergentes’ website which is full of beautiful and intelligent projects hybridizing architecture and landscape design.


Here is the text wrote by Paisajes Emergentes to introduce their project:

Heathrow Airplot. Weightless

Nearby properties voluntarily participate in the installation.
The installation will take place at a much larger scale than just the airplot site.

Property owners may waive (or purchasers may be required to waive) any putative notion of “air rights” near an airport, for convenience in future real estate transactions, and to avoid lawsuits from future owners who might attempt to claim distress from overflying aircraft. This is called a navigation easement.“At the same time, the law, and the Supreme Court, recognized that a landowner had property rights in the lower reaches of the airspace above their property. The law, in balancing the public interest in using the airspace for air navigation against the landowner’s rights, declared that a landowner owns only so much of the airspace above their property as they may reasonably use in connection with their enjoyment of the underlying land. In other words, a person’s real property ownership includes a reasonable amount of the airspace above the property. A landowner can’t arbitrarily try to prevent aircraft from overflying their land by erecting “spite poles”for example. But, a landowner may make any legitimate use of their property that they want, even if it interferes with aircraft overflying the land”

“The volcanic ash crisis in Iceland is thought to have cost the European travel industry more than 1.2 billion euros in cancelled flights, lost hotel suites and empty cruise ships.”

Balloons deployed onto farm animals. About 2 cubic metres of Helium. Floating houses: 240 cubic metres of helium.

Credits: Paisajes Emergentes. (Luis Callejas, Edgar Mazo, Sebastián Mejia) Collaborators: Maria Clara  Trujillo, Juan Esteban Gomez, Erica Martinez, Sebastian Monsalve. Alexander Laing. Competition entry. Airplot international competition