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Environment / Climate change

6 outlandish designs for future skyscrapers

Every year, eVolo, a design magazine, holds a skyscraper design competition. These aren’t skyscrapers that are going to be built – no, these are skyscrapers unhindered by fun-ruining factors such as “budgets”, “physics”, or “reality”.  

This year, the winning designs were as crazy as ever. According to the competition’s website, they stood out from the rest of the 480 competition entries for their “creativity, ingenuity, and understanding of dynamic and adaptive vertical communities”. Most of the architects focussed on ways that skyscrapers could tackle climate change, overpopulation, or both. Here’s a selection of our favourites.

1. “Essence”  – the one that’s the outdoors, indoors 

Image: Ewa Odyjas, Agnieszka Morga, Konrad Basan, Jakub Pudo.

This was the competition’s overall winner. Looks pretty normal from this angle, right? But take a look inside:

Image: Ewa Odyjas, Agnieszka Morga, Konrad Basan, Jakub Pudo.

The tower is actually a sort of  spiral of natural landscapes, spanning 12 different environments, from “jungle” through to “cave” and “waterfall”. The architects call it a “secret garden that combines architecture and nature”. Seems legit.

2. The “Shanty-Scraper”

Image: Suraksha Bhatla, Sharan Sundar.

It’s kind of ironic that in slum-dominated megacities, homes tend to be built only a few stories high, while in wealthier, emptier cities skyscrapers stretch hundreds of metres tall.

This design, which won second place in the competition, seeks to redress that balance. It’s designed to house Indian fisherman in what the architects call a “vertical squatter structure”, built using found materials and construction debris. The tower’s height could also be used by the fisherman as a vantage point to spot oncoming storms.

3. “Cybertopia”  – the one that doesn’t look much like a skyscraper

Image: Egor Orlov.

In third place is this, um, skyscraper, which, if we’re honest, we’re a little confused by. Why so many set squares on the roof? Why the Hollywood sign? Where is all the coloured smoke coming from?

Let’s look at another rendering to see if that clears anything up:

Image: Egor Orlov.

Those guys on the cherrypicker look about as baffled a we are. Here’s what the architect (Egor Orlov, of Russia) has to say:

 A complex space structure of the future megapolis combines the physical and digital worlds. Spaces of these digital areas have a large number of physical and mechanical laws alien to real space. An ability to fly over or move from one planet to another one, to pass through the walls during system bugs makes the city more complicated.

Cyberspace full of hallucination and bugs, components of its own habitat has moved into a real megapolis which is being formed and organized simultaneously in the digital and physical space. 

Right.

4. “Limestone Skyscrapers”

Image: Jethro Koi Lik Wai, Quah Zheng Wei.

These Malaysian architects based their design around the country’s beautiful limestone crags, which are under threat from mining and erosion. They suggest building towers into the limestone’s facade once it has been hollowed out through mining – the building would then support what’s left of the mountain, keeping it intact.

Image: Jethro Koi Lik Wai, Quah Zheng Wei.

5. “The Tower of Refuge” – the one that’s basically Noah’s Ark

Image: Qidan Chen.

As these architects point out in their competition entry, we humans are building climate-resistant cities and even trying to inhabit other planets, while animals are vulnerable to all the effects of climate change. So they propose building a “Noah’s ark”, providing all the conditions necessary to keep samples of all species alive.

6. “Air Monument: Atmosphere Database” – a giant air sample collection tower

Image: Shi Yuqing, Hu Yifei, Zhang Juntong, Sheng Zifeng, He Yanan.

These architects looked at the brief, looked at the unlimited budget and the endless possibilities therein, and decided to focus their project on the problem of data collection in air quality monitoring.


This isn’t quite as boring as it sounds: the architects dreamed up a 1km tall tower to head up into the clouds and collect consistent data on air pollution. 

From the competition entry:

[The tower] will survive any disasters and survive far beyond any human civilisation even when the worlds collide and even when humans cease to exist.

The architects also included in their entry this rather optimistic sketch of the collection tower’s height, compared to, among others, the Burj Khalifa (second from left):

After all, if we can’t dream in an imaginary skyscraper competition, when can we?
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