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The Scorpion Tower marketing - waterfront finished concept.
Courtesy of One Thousand Museum / Catapult13
The Scorpion Tower marketing - waterfront finished concept.

Encore Wednesdays, Oct. 6 & 13, 2021 at 10 p.m. & Sunday, Oct. 24 at Noon on KPBS TV / On Demand

Watch now with KPBS Passport!

Learn about the creation of some of the world’s most ambitious and technologically advanced buildings in the three-part series, IMPOSSIBLE BUILDS. From subaquatic homes to futuristic towers and pencil thin skyscrapers, see how these previously impossible structures are taking shape.


Episode 1: “The Scorpion Tower” encore Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

In the heart of downtown Miami, a skyscraper like no other is rising. The curvaceous design is radical and the method of construction nothing short of revolutionary. The Scorpion Tower is the brainchild of superstar architect Dame Zaha Hadid, and it’s a 62-story luxury residence with a difference.

Unlike most other skyscrapers, the Scorpion Tower features an insect-like external skeleton where the supporting columns are on the outside of the building. The curvaceous design is so radical, construction experts have turned to a building material never before used in skyscraper construction.

It’s called glass fiber reinforced concrete, and the Scorpion Tower’s fluid columns will be formed from close to 5,000 individual panels. Each one will be precision made 8,000 miles away in Dubai and shipped to Miami for installation. If the untested method works, it could revolutionize the skyscraper industry and be a catalyst for super curvy buildings where straight lines are a thing of the past.

To support the 700-foot-tall tower, the construction team will have to mastermind one of the deepest foundation systems of its kind in Miami’s history.

As the building work begins, the entire workforce is rocked by the sudden death of Zaha Hadid. Determined to complete the Scorpion Tower as a legacy to one of the most extraordinary architects in a generation, the team must now rewrite the rulebook as they take the pioneering building material to new heights.

Episode 2: “Europe In The Desert” encore Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Austrian property developer Josef Kleindienst has a dream — to transform six barren sand islands poking out of the Persian Gulf into the most luxurious holiday destination on earth. His plans are ambitious and costly. He’s spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create the essence of Europe across six artificial islands located 2.5 miles off the coast of Dubai.

Called the Heart of Europe, his six-million-square-foot resort will feature 14 hotels and 42 private residences, and will accommodate up to 16,000 people at any one time. To realize his dream, a team of specialists will have to endure extreme conditions and take on Mother Nature in order to transform inhospitable islands into a tropical haven fit for royalty. Sweden Island will be the most exclusive island in the resort, and if Kleindienst has his way, the world. It will feature just 10 villas, each with its own private beach and desert jungle.

Prices start at a staggering $20 million dollars — and the first one has already been sold. The foundations have yet to be dug, but Kleindienst has agreed to have the villa move-in ready just 12 months. As the countdown to the deadline slips by, Kleindienst’s impulsive decisions and sky-high standards on just one building push construction way off schedule … and millions of dollars over budget.

Episode 3: “The Floating House” encore Sunday, Oct. 24 at Noon on KPBS TV

Living beneath the waves has long been a science fiction fantasy, but architect Marco Bolzoni’s team in Dubai is trying to make it a reality. His project, called the Seahorse, is a floating villa combining the best of land and marine design.

The Seahorse during construction, Dubai.
The Seahorse during construction, Dubai.

Above the waterline, it promises two floors of ultra-luxurious living space. Downstairs is another world. The floating Seahorse hopes to offer the first underwater bedroom, complete with coral garden. Bolzoni is so confident his design will work that he’s decided to commence production of a full-scale prototype. The only issue is – he has no experience in this field. If his calculations are not spot on, he could find himself and his multi-million dollar villa in deep water.

Underwater bedroom in the Seahorse.
Underwater bedroom in the Seahorse.


All three episodes are available demand with KPBS Passport, a benefit for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.


Produced by Blink Films, Discovery Networks Europe and France Television.