The Phare du Monde tower, proposed for the 1937 Paris Exhibition. The structure was designed for the World’s Fair in Paris, but it was never constructed. The above illustration is of Eugène Freyssinet’s Phare du Monde, or Lighthouse of the World, from 1933. This image originally appeared in a 1933 issue of Modern Mechanix.
The tower features an external spiral ramp leading to a parking garage 1640 feet (500 meters) from ground level. Once at the top, visitors would find a restaurant, hotel and observation deck, and the spire contained a lighthouse beacon and a meteorological cabin.
The view? Sublime. The design? Utterly ridiculous, unless taken as a satirical statement on civilization’s reliance on the automobile.
Imagine driving up a spiral ramp with 30 revolutions, just to park your car at the top while you experience the world below from 2000 feet (609 meters). Spiral ramps in parking garages generally contain around 5-10 revolutions depending on the floor count, with a tight radius for turning.
Now imagine 30, with a much larger radius, meaning travel times increase. It feels like drivers would get quite dizzy after completing the drive up or down. There’s also the possibility of car accidents, engine stalling on the way up and loss of control on the way down.
Why not just design a system of lifts to remove all these risks? I suppose that’s not as eye-catching as the ability to drive up there, and the design is nothing if not eye-catching.