DJI, the world’s largest small drone company, has commissioned plans for a futuristic skybridge from which its employees will be able to observe and pilot drones.
The plans are some of the first to include drone operation and observation in the urban infrastructure, and offer a glimpse of what architecture designed for a drone-filled world could look like.
Designed by architecture studio Preliminary Research Office, the pedestrian bridge is designed to connect the two skyscrapers that will serve as its new headquarters in Shenzhen, China. The two-storey skybridge will connect one skyscraper on its 28th floor, and the other on its 28th and 29th floors.
Made from a series of intersecting cones, the structure features drone observation spaces over two different floors, a viewing deck providing views of the surrounding city and a number of meeting spaces.
Located immediately north of Hong Kong, Shenzhen is a major hub for hardware development and manufacturing, and has been home to DJI since its founding in 2006.
The dramatic growth of the company, fuelled in part by the success of its consumer-friendly Phantom line, as well as the more commercially targeted Inspire range, has required it to move to for larger premises in recent years. The release of these rendering and supporting plans from Preliminary Research Office suggests that that expansion is now going further.
In addition, it indicates that DJI is keen to have its own outdoor space to demonstrate and potentially test new drones, which are surprisingly rare sight in the Chinese city, despite it being known as the Silicon Valley of China.
As drones become more widespread both as a consumer product for entertainment purposes and as a commercial tool for activities including photography, surveillance and building inspections, they are likely to become more common sight in cities where they are allowed to fly. This will require the creation of suitable launching, landing and piloting spaces, with this design providing one of the first depictions of what such spaces could look like.
It could also add to the growing body of work associated with the development of delivery drones, which in developed nations look set to be pioneered by companies including Amazon. While considerable work has been undertaken to develop drones fit for the task, comparatively little has been done to develop supporting infrastructure and architecture.
Neither DJI nor Preliminary Research Office have provided any timeline for the skybridge as yet, however assuming the company likes the design, we could see the project realised within a relatively short timescale.