Not to be confused with Megatall, Superstructure, Supertall, or Skyscraper.
For other uses, see Megastructure (disambiguation).
The Great Wall of China is a megastructure. This picture was taken near Beijing in February 2005.

A megastructure is a very large manmade object, though the limits of precisely how large this is vary considerably. Some apply the term to any especially large or tall building.[1][2] Some sources define a megastructure as an enormous self-supporting artificial construct. Other criteria such as rigidity or contiguousness are sometimes also applied, so large clusters of associated smaller structures may or may not qualify. The products of megascale engineering or astroengineering are megastructures.

Most megastructure designs could not be constructed with today's level of industrial technology. This makes their design examples of speculative (or exploratory) engineering. Those that could be constructed easily qualify as megaprojects.

Megastructures are also an architectural concept popularized in the 1960s where a city could be encased in a single building, or a relatively small number of buildings interconnected. Such arcology concepts are popular in science fiction. Megastructures often play a part in the plot or setting of science fiction movies and books, such as Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

In 1968, Ralph Wilcoxon defined a megastructure as any structural framework into which rooms, houses, or other small buildings can later be installed, uninstalled, and replaced; and which is capable of "unlimited" extension. Many architects have designed such megastructures.

Some of the more notable such architects and architectural groups include the Metabolist Movement, Archigram, Cedric Price, Frei Otto, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Yona Friedman, and Buckminster Fuller.[3] This type of framework allows the structure to adapt to the individual wishes of its residents, even as those wishes change with time.[4]

Other sources define a megastructure as "any development in which residential densities are able to support services and facilities essential for the development to become a self-contained community".[5]


There are structures that may be considered megastructures, such as

Networks of roads or railways, and collections of buildings (cities and associated suburbs), are usually not considered megastructures, despite frequently qualifying based on size. However, an ecumenopolis might qualify.



Stellar scale

A cut-away diagram of an idealized Dyson shell—a variant on Dyson's original concept—1 AU in radius.

Most stellar scale Megastructure proposals are designs to make use of the energy from a sun-like star while possibly still providing gravity or other attributes that would make it attractive for an advanced civilization.

Planetary scale

Orbital structures

Trans-orbital structures

One concept for the space elevator has it tethered to a mobile seagoing platform.


Stellar scale

Planetary scale

Delta Halo, one of the seven remaining Halos from the fictional Halo universe

Megascale structures

Structures that might not be classified as "Megastructures" because they do not meet the requirements, but are indeed "Mega" sized structures/constructions.

Stellar scale

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to megastructures.


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/16/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.