eVolo magazine holds a yearly competition to design high-rise architecture, and it is always absolutely amazing. Space-age design, which looks straight out of science fiction, is combined with awesome sustainable innovation, showcasing the very edges of what the architecture and engineering community can currently achieve. Past entries have included last years polar umbrella, and design’s intended to support life after the coming apocalypse.
In the words of the eVolo website:
“It recognizes outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the implementation of novel technologies, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations along with studies on globalization, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution.”
The results of the 2014 competition were announced on March 20th, and once again, they are absolutely astonishing. Here’s the 12 most awesome entries to the contest this year…
1) Vernacular Versatility: The Wooden Wonder
Architect: Yong Ju Lee; United States
First Place Prize
The rightful winner of this years competition, this incredible structure may not immediately look as striking or as innovative as some of the entries you will see below… until you realise how it is made. The entirely wooden structure is completely held up by slotted together beams and girders, without the need for any nails or other fastenings. This old Korean architectural technique know as Gagu has until now only been applied to one storey buildings, but this entry employs creative thinking to extend the structure high into the sky!
2) Marinetti’s Monster: The City in the Sky
Architects: Mark Talbot, Daniel Markiewicz; United States
Second Place Prize
This behemoth scooped up the second prize in the competition. Designed for a declining urban region in Detroit, it seeks to house not just one building but an entire neighbourhood in the skies! This huge, block-like future city contains residential and commercial spaces. New buildings can even be ‘plugged in’ to the side of the structure whenever demand changes! There are even streets for cars and pedestrian pathways intertwining within its intricate frame.
3) The Propagate Skyscraper: The Tower That Grows
Architects: YuHao Liu, Rui Wu; Canada
Third Place Prize
This third prize winning entry to the competition completely blew my mind. It employs carbon capture and storage technology in a way which causes carbon dioxide to be removed from the atmosphere, while being turned into a construction material causing the skyscraper to grow within a scaffold frame. Although this technology is still largely hypothetical, the idea of a structure which cleans up the atmosphere AND constructs itself in the process, creating new living spaces, is incredibly enticing.
4) Sand Babel: The 3D Printed Tower
Architects: Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya, Guo Shen; China
One of the coolest looking entries on the list, these towers are also 3D printed from the desert sands themselves. They are designed as scientific research stations and tourist attractions, creating productive desert communities. Not only does the tower extend above ground, but there’s an extensive network of root like tunnels underneath the desert too. And those mushroom like rooftops? They’re water condensers, solving one of the age old issues of dry desert biomes with serious style.
5) Launchspire: Ready for Takeoff
Architects: Henry Smith, Adam Woodward, Paul Attkins; UK
An extraordinary achievement, this super-tall structure is utilised in a way you may not expect. Sure, it’s construction is simple – a continuous spiralling floor containing high density residential units – but encased within it’s peak is an incredible secret. When built next to airport runways, the skyscraper uses an electromagnetic vertical accelerator to launch aircraft into the sky at high velocities without the need for hydrocarbon fuel. It’s the same technology that CERN uses to fire atoms around the Large Hadron Collider, and if it is truly possible to employ it in this way then the aviation industry could get a heck of a lot greener.
6) Hyper Filter Skyscraper: Cleaning Your City’s Air
Architect: Umarov Alexey; Russia
A simple idea, yet a beautiful design. These ethereal funnels suck in pollutants from a dirty cities atmosphere and breathe out pure oxygen. The dirty chemicals are then refined and recycled for use in the chemicals industry. Put a couple of these in your city and watch the air clean itself.
7) Liquefactower: The Sinking City
Architect: Eric Nakajima; New Zealand
Who says skyscrapers have to go upwards? Definitely not this design… Whilst thinking about how cities could recover from natural disasters, the architect looked at Christchurch in New Zealand. After the terrible earthquake in 2011, many buildings in the metropolis collapsed due to soil liquefaction destroying their foundations. This building however, is built to sink. During soil liquefaction, the whole structure slides slowly downwards, without disturbing the foundations, burying the lower floors in the soil. Then a couple of new floors are simply built on top, while the subterranean levels remain completely functional.
8) Skyvillage: The Freeway City
Architect: Ziwei Song; United States
Designed to cover a busy freeway intersection on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the brief behind the construction is a ‘reclamation’ of the land which the roads take up. There is a dual benefit to this wonder however, firstly the community it creates in an urban space otherwise thought beyond further development. Secondly, the filters encased within its underbelly capture the exhaust fumes of the thousands of cars passing underneath it, preventing the pollution from contributing to the cities smog problem. On top of all that, it looks absolutely, beautifully insane.
9) Seawer: The Garbage Seascraper
Architect: Sung Jin Cho; South Korea
Technically not designed to be anywhere near the sky, this proposal is however about as innovative as any other entry on the list. It’s supposed to be installed right in the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of plastic waste around the size of Texas which is the result of hundreds of years of polluting our oceans. The idea is that the huge, funnel like structure would suck in waste, separate the plastic particles from the water to be recycled, purify the remaining liquid, before shooting out nothing but seawater at the other end. Could this be a solution to one of the biggest environmental problems on Earth?
10) The Infill Aquifer: Multi-purpose Urban Sustainability
Architect: Jason Orbe-Smith; United States.
The Infill Aquifer is many things. It’s spacious urban living. It’s a inner city reservoir. It’s a ground level urban park. It pretty much covers all of the main bases when it comes to urban water management. Moisture is captured, stored, and filtered down to rain onto a spacious green area below the structure. It is designed to keep the urban hydrological cycle in balance, reduce flood potential, and just generally make cities a better place to live. It’s also a bold design too, which will certainly spice up a skyline.
11) Re-silience Skycraper: Biomass Reduction
Architects: Diego Espinosa Figueroa, Javiera Valenzuela Gonzalez; Chile
With over 50% of the world now living in urban settlements, the focus on global design tends to be on modern materials, designed to symbolise a gleaming future. This entry sees a different vision of the coming years, one which goes back to nature. These beautiful structures are built from the very soil itself, and other biomass construction materials. It is designed to mimic the conglomerations built by insects such as ants and termites, and blends in with the natural shape of the landscapes in which it is built.
12) Neoclassical Skyscraper: History in the 21st Century
Architects: John Houser, Parke MacDowell; United States
While most of the skyscrapers on this list look firmly at the future, this entry prefers to cast its gaze back into the past. It proposes a design for Chicago which makes use of classical architectural techniques such as the Doric column, but extends these beautiful constructions high into the sky. For nostalgia factor alone, this entry would be a striking development if implemented.
All images courtesy of the architects and eVolo.us.