'Earth-Scraper' Will Get Down in Mexico City -- 65 Stories Deep

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earth scraper Mexico City

A new building is proposed for the heart of Mexico City: a 65-story edifice, packed with retail, offices, apartments and a museum. But unlike its skyscraping peers, this giant structure won't reach for the stars: It'll plunge toward earth's core.

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Architects have designed an "earth-scraper," a giant building that will burrow 300 meters (about 328 yards) beneath the city's main square, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail. Shaped like an inverted pyramid, the design, by BNKR Arquitectura (pronounced "bunker," if we had to guess), is a creative response to the unique building challenges of densely populated Mexico City.

Lest you think it might be kinda depressing to live and work 65 stories down, a glass "roof" in the city's main square would cover the building and allow natural light to filter down through all levels of the structure. Up above, the glass-covered plaza would continue its function as a central gathering place for the town -- albeit probably not for residents queasy about heights.

According to the proposal, the first 10 floors down would house a history museum featuring Aztec and Mayan artifacts, the next 20 would hold retail shops and housing, and the last 35 would serve as commercial space, the Daily Mail reports.

The design, say its Mexico City-based creators, is an attempt to add desperately needed retail, office and living space and at the same time comply with local laws that prohibit the demolition of historic buildings and impose an eight-story height limit on new structures.

No word yet on whether the Earthscraper--a finalist in the 2010 eVolo skyscraper competition--will see the (filtered) light of day.

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Surreal Estate: Weird Homes to Weather the Storm
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'Earth-Scraper' Will Get Down in Mexico City -- 65 Stories Deep

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard, homeowners are battening down the hatches from North Carolina to New York this weekend. But if you lived in one of the uniquely sturdy homes on our list, Irene might pack a less powerful punch. From semi-subterranean shelters to conch-shaped fortresses, hippie dirt mounds to high-art domes, we explore some of the coolest places to weather a storm. 

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Advertised as "off-the-grid," this 3,140-square-foot home just outside of Taos, N.M is listed for $495,000. It has a spacious living room, fireplace and half-bath, kitchen dining area, patio and deck, and is powered by solar panels and a wind turbine.

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Powered exclusively through natural sources, solar panels on the home soak up the hot New Mexico rays, while a turbine harvests desert winds.

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The bedroom, encased in concrete and wood is surrounded by "mature" trees -- you know, like the kind you can have deep conversations with. Also on the patio awaits an appliance which may come as a surprise: a barbecue. Who's up for some grilled arugula!? 

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The center of the home hosts its green nuts and bolts: There, a giant cistern stores the home's H20 next to an interior waterfall and the solar battery apparatus. 

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This earth-sheltered dome home in Fountain Hills, Ariz., is mostly underground and offers protection from harsh weather conditions, along with the reduced energy costs that come with earth-cooling. 

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The unconventional abode boasts a balcony and several outdoor patios with mountain views.

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While the prospect of living underground might call to mind a mole-like existence, the place's cream interior and skylights add buoyancy to its insides. 

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The home isn't as cramped as you might think: It offers 1,788 square feet of space that includes three bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms. Outside, there's a two-car garage

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These renderings sketch the designs of "eco-cottages," green homes that nestle into hills that will dot the perimeter of Frank Lloyd Wright's famous waterfall-straddling home known as "Fallingwater."  The innovative homes were selected through a design competition, according to inhabitat.com.


The partially subterranean homes will use the cooling properties of the earth to maintain room temperature in the cottages' minimalist interiors, reports inhabitat.com. 

All the cottages will include a bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom. 

The jury that selected the home reportedly stated: "In its subtlety, it is provocative and it carries forward the discourse about where architecture can move." Construction of the cottages is still in the fund-raising phase. 

Tardigrade House is modeled after "the world's most indestructible living creature -- the Tardigrade," according to the designer's website. Don't know what a Tardigrade is? Neither did we. According to Webster's, it's a category of microscopic animal that comprises the water bears. The partially buried home constructed of styrofoam and cement is internationally "touted as the world's safest house," the designer's website proclaims. 

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The concrete foundation sits over a series of perforated drainpipes that carry away floods. While it may have the hardiness of something microscopic, the place actually turns out to be quite spacious: The three-story home contains three bedrooms and bathrooms. 

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Rock-solid homes don't always come cheap. This dome complex in Brainerd, Minn. costs $1.5 million. Financed by the Water Foundation. Polystyrene insulation under the concrete creates a "thermal envelope" that wraps around the structure. 

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An elaborate stairway slicing through vegetative landscaping ushers you into the eco-conscious four-story home.

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Nifty windows flood the wood interior with natural light. The home includes the "Biological Composting Toilet System" that the home's designer, Natural Spaces Domes, estimates has saved Minnesotans 900,000 gallons of water. 

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Located in the sleepy Swiss village of Vals, this high-concept vacation home is literally built into the pastoral scenery. The brainchild of architectural firms SeARCH and Christian Muller Architects, the home was designed to "strengthen the surrounding landscape" -- not dominate it.

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As this aerial shot illustrates, however, you don't have to give up civilization to enjoy a quiet weekend. The unassuming property is smack-dab in the middle of a populated village.

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Just because the home is built partly underground doesn't mean visitors can't still enjoy the mountain air from the home's many intimate rooms.

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The Villa Vals booking site, which offers the home to visitors for 3,500 euros ($5,061) per week during peak season, notes that the interior is filled with furnishings by some of the most cutting-edge Dutch designers.

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The rural setting makes the glowing windows of the home all the more stunning at night. Meditate by day, throw Swiss ragers by night.

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OK, we can't in good faith suggest that people seek shelter from hurricane force winds in this glass and steel cube -- but what a way to spend a rainy night in! From ground level, only the sleek cubic shell is visible. But for those invited in, the basement level pool is sure to please. Located in a wooded area in Long Island, N.Y., the 4,500 square-foot Sagaponic House is perfect for outdoorsy revelers.

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High ceilings and glass walls make the boundaries between artifice and nature all the more transparent in this ultra-modern abode.

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The contemporary interior puts a chic new spin on storm-watching. Just put a tarp over that pool!

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A closer look at the home's most interesting feature, the sub-level pool.

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