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Artist envisions drone-proof city

Posting in Architecture

We've heard all about them. Drones used to spy on European farms, pint-sized Hornet helicopters employed to oust insurgents, and the privacy concerns that follow the use of such technology.

How would you feel about living in a city where drones aren't able to function?

That's the idea behind conceptual artist Asher J. Kohn's "Shura City" design. Keep in mind it is a purely speculative design, which muses over what construction factors could be used to either confuse or render drone technology useless.

Envisioning several different ideas, Kohn describes a number of features:

Buildings: Concrete being the material of choice, the artist says that "the backbone of the city must be highly structured yet retain elements of randomness," in order to confuse surveillance drones and make tracking a resident's movements more difficult.

Windows: Fashioned from multicolored blocks of glass, the windows would be constructed not to hamper someone looking out, but keep people from looking in.

Roof: The concept design includes a shared roof that would aim to keep the entire area at roughly the same temperature in order to prevent drones detecting individual heat signatures.

Towers: Minarets -- apart from being what the artist calls "a symbol of the inhabitants" would also be constructed in order to make drone passes difficult and dangerous for low-fliers.

Cooling towers: Otherwise known as badgirs, these powers would suck air in through a chimney and cool it before redistribution -- once again hiding human heat signatures.

There is logic within elements of the design, which appears to be focused around obscuring residents from surveillance rather than providing active defense against the military use of drones. Kohn commented:

"Drones are a way to use the city. Architects will have to interact with them and create built environments that will either promote or inhibit their use. At this stage, political questions that define who we are as a society and who we include in a society are part-and-parcel of talk on drones. I hope to demonstrate how architects, lawyers, and countless other professions and labors can interact with drones instead of simply being subject to them."

(Hat tip: PopSci)

Image credit: Asher J. Kohn

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— By on February 6, 2013, 11:00 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure