I’m building a colossal tower. This tower forgoes the use of steel and concrete completely in favor of cheap lighter-than-air modules. These modules have cube-shaped frames made of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials. To achieve lift, hydrogen sacs are used. Unfortunately more flammable than helium but more plentiful, easy to produce and ergonomically viable. I know you will inevitably comment about it being a giant firecracker so let me list my security measures.

  • In case of fire, modules placed directly above and under the afflicted area will instantly deflate their sacks to prevent further damage. In the worst-case scenario the escaping gas may also catch fire. Thankfully it is released laterally so as to protect the other modules.
  • In case the first measure isn’t enough to stop the explosions, modules above and under the afflicted area detach from the tower to be reassembled later.
  • [Other security measures of your choice.]

Moving on with the presentation: The modules have no propulsion system of their own. Instead drones move the modules into and out of place. When replacing a worn down or damaged module from the middle of the tower, cables connecting the modules are attached to their distant neighbors and later pulled closer together once the faulty module is removed.

The modules are designed to last for long periods of time. As such they refill themselves over time. Filters on them sides collect moisture from the air to use for electrolysis powered by solar panels. Furthermore a computer chip controls the center of mass of the module (as well as the safety protocols).

Due to the square-cube-law stating that the linear size of an object being doubled leads to an eightfold increase in volume, the mass of each module is negated at a sufficient size. The cubic design keeps the materials used in the frame to a minimum while providing a stable shape to be stacked. The cost efficiency of the modules makes it so they can be produced by the thousands.

Now that we are done with the technicalities, how do you protect this lighter-than-air tower from wind?

The technology level is slightly futuristic. Things like cost and labor are completely irrelevant in my setting. As for the purpose of the tower... well, I’ll come to that later. For now it’s simply a very tall vertical structure meant to be as tall as physically possible.

  • $\begingroup$ What are you hoping to get in the answers to this question that you didn't get in your very similar question previously worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/218859/… $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2022 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 A countermeasure against wind, which need I not remind you (since you've done your research) wasn't solved in the previous question. I am addressing this specifically in this question. $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2022 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @LiveinAmbeR I think that if you want your tower to be only one module wide, the modules should be shaped like cylinders, not cubes. That will give the tower a circular cross section and not a square cross section. I think that cylindrical buildings have better wind resistance than rectangular ones. $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2022 at 18:16

4 Answers 4


Artificial eye of the storm

Engineering a series of large ground-based structures that are meant to generate artificial wind currents that spiral around the tower(with sufficient leeway of distance between the tower and the currents) and create a wind wall may be the way to go with this one. The wind wall will stop any natural winds frem getting to the tower and will ensure that there is little to no wind going on where the tower itself is.

Just make sure that the eye's wall actually remains stationary as you wouldn't want the extremely strong winds of the wall shredding your tower to pieces once it starts to move as hurricanes and the like tend to do.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer, thank you! This is so far off from what I had in mind but I see your point. Now to study the intricacies of weather machines... oh boy... $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2022 at 7:44

They are cylindrical instead of square.

M. A. Golding made this comment, but I wanted to really expand the details.

In college I studied architecture and construction, and one of our major projects was regarding the design of emergency shelters and disaster proofing. For structures designed to withstand tornadoes and hurricane force winds (assuming subterranean wasn't an option) a round shape was always superior, either conical or domed. The lack of flat sides prevents wind from any direction getting a grasp on the structure, as well as can be used to properly redirect wind in a safer way.

Additionally, with a tower in mind, this is exactly why wind turbines have round towers. The wind force directly hitting a flat surface puts too much stress on the tower to be safe, but the rounded face automatically diverts the wind to either side. Lattice tower designs are an alternative solely because air flows throw them nearly unencumbered, but there are other structural risks associated that make them less feasible as they get larger. enter image description here

In square towers the wind puts more force on the flat surfaces, and has the potential to essentially create artificial canyons and wind tunnels (hence Chicago is known as the windy city). In a stand alone tower of independent sections I expect it much more likely that the wind force will constantly push the sections out of place and not likely in a consistent way. You will probably need some other means to continuously move them back into place, but rounded sections will likely have far less drift.enter image description here

Engineers working on space elevator concepts have struggled with this issue for quite some time, as the wind force adds quite a bit of additional tension to the cable beyond that of its weight. If you are expecting your tower to have some sort of sway to it (which would probably be most accurate depending on the altitude) it might look something like this:enter image description here

Following that train of thought, what you described brings to mind paper lanterns that come in both square and cylindrical or even spherical varieties. The mental image combined with the topic of wind turbines reminded me that inflatable kite turbines exist. Without context for the function of your tower segments it might be worth looking into. enter image description here

There are gaps between segments or they are wedge shaped

If you expect to follow more traditional skyscraper designs then there are a number of things that could be changed as well. An air gap between segments would decreases the chances of creating a vacuum behind the structure. A sort of airfoil or wedge design might also be useful for all the same reasons listed above, assuming the segments can rotate to face the wind. enter image description here enter image description here

The list could really go on, but unfortunately narrowing it down heavily requires the context of purpose and function. Here is just one of many articles on line that might be helpful, but the google search results could fill thousands of pages.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer, thank you! Not only did you study this field which is invaluable insight but you also took the effort to illustrate. This deserves extra credit. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2022 at 7:42

The modules have no propulsion system of their own.

They are drones.

That way you can use those other drones to deliver chocolate and flowers. Your modules can propel themselves and do so to resist the wind when that is needed. Onboard hydrogen reserves are kept in a compressed gas cylinder. They can be used to recharge the buoyant elements, or used as fuel for the drones via a fuel cell.


Guy wires.

All tall towers rely on guy wires to maintain their rigidity and resist wind shear.

The height of your tower was never specified but the guy system used is very much determined by the height. I have maintained 1,600 foot tall towers with eight V-guys.

The picture below shows the general strategy for very tall structures.

Guy system for 1,000 foot antenna tower


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