Seen from far away, this desert skyscraper could easily be taken for a mirage. While it might not look green, the tower is meant to have sustainable staying power.

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The conceptual skyscraper, called Sand Babel, comes from the Chinese design team Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya and Guo Shen. ”The main portion of each building is constructed with sand, sintered through a solar-powered 3-D printer,” their description reads. The printer would make the building’s spiral skeleton structure, which goes deep underground like tree roots.

Each building would be a base for both scientific research facilities and tourist attractions, connected through a tube network system. One tower could house living space, laboratories, an observation deck and a helipad. The building top, inspired by the naturally occurring “mushroom rock” desert formation, would collect water condensation.

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Like the impressive Drifting Skyscraper and Hyper-Speed Vertical Train Hub, Sand Babel received an honorable mention in eVolo Magazine’s 2014 Skyscraper Competition. It might be built from desert sand, but there’s nothing dry about this idea.

Image: The Sand Babel is a solar-powered skyscraper that’s 3D-printed from sand. Credit: Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya and Guo Shen via eVolo.