In truth, this concept design is much closer to science fiction than next year’s great innovation. Nonetheless, I can say quite confidently that I am not the only person to dream about floating around the clouds. When flying, I always enjoy the moment the airplane first peaks above the clouds and the sun bursts through the windows. The vast expanse of clouds, rising up like fluffy towers, is always an amazing site to see.
New York designer Tiago Barros took his days of staring into the sky and created a beautiful, cloud-like balloon concept. To me, the design, known as Passing Cloud, seems like the meshing of hot air balloons and blimps to create what could be called a floating form of transportation. Occupants are given the opportunity to look out at the world around them and experience the sky from an unobstructed vantage point. While the Passing Cloud may at first glance be just another designer’s daydream, the concept may also serve as one of the greenest, though probably least practical, forms of transportation.
Passing Cloud is composed of a series of heavy duty balloons that have been connected so as to aesthetically mimic a free forming cloud. The balloons are contained within a stainless steel structure covered in tensile nylon fabric. In this way, the entire series of balloons forms one complete floating unit. The fabric is strong and durable, able to handle large gusts of wind and to move with the air currents.
It ought to be apparent that the Passing Cloud is not meant to be an efficient mode of transportation. Those intending to ride should be prepared to enjoy the journey and put any future plans on hold for the duration of the trip. Once in the sky, passengers would simply sit of the surface of the structure for the entire trip. There would be no set landing time and no precise destination. Once in the air, the Passing Cloud is at the whims of the wind as to where and how fast it will travel.
The design would have no fuel, no motor, and thus no pollution emissions. Withstanding the obvious holes in the engineering and physics behind the concept, the design is a simple idea that shows a youthful creativity and inspiration. The beauty of the Passing Cloud is the experience of the world that it would impart to its passengers and not the place you are trying to get to.
The passing Cloud plan was submitted by Tiago Barros to the Van Alen Institute and the Depatrment of Cultural Affairs of New York for the international “Life at the Speed of Rail” competition. Considering most of the designs at the competition were of high speed rail networks, the Passing Cloud certainly stood out. Though not honored, the design must have been inspiring to see.