Yes, we know these look like skyscrapers that inhabitants in the next dystopian young adult novel-turned-blockbuster reside in, but they could be where you live someday. Or maybe where your kids’ kids call home. 3D printing with sand means we could build homes in places we never thought possible post-Pyramids. We can hear those old mummies now: “Back in my day, we built homes out here with our bare hands.” Suuure you did, Pharaoh.

The eVolo 9th Annual Skyscraper Competition asked artists, architects and designers to submit designs for structures in a future world low on resources like energy and water. Yay, future! Even if those conditions sound bleak, the submissions were beautiful, including these Sand Babel Towers created by a team of designers from China. Their imagined skyscrapers would be constructed in the desert in two main sections using cranes and 3D printers. People would live and work in the part above ground, over a system of underground tunnels that connect each tower.

While sand skyscrapers are just a really striking concept for now, 3D printing with sand is a reality. In 2011, designer Markus Kayser revealed the Solar-Sinter, a machine that uses solar cells to power a computer and run a printer. A lens on the machine “sinters” a tray of sand to form a glass-like material that can 3D print objects. It’s the perfect machine for creating objects out of a desert’s #1 and #2 resources: sun and sand.

We would have filed this under “Made Us Look,” but it was more like a visually stunning “Made Us Think” too. While this isn’t a tool or a concept you can take to the beach to help construct sand castles anytime soon, it shows how 3D printing could one day help in large scale projects. Hey, the future moon homes will use it, why not untapped biomes for dwelling on Earth?

Would you live in a skyscrapers in the desert? Have a design or architecture project that made you look? Share with us below!