Canada's Condominium Magazine

Skyscraper competition attracts weird and wonderful designs

The online architecture magazine eVolo has announced the winners of its 2013 Skyscraper Competition. From a field of 625 entries from 83 countries, the jury picked three winners and 24 honourable mentions. As usual, they push the boundaries of architecture through their fantastical use of technology, materials and aesthetics. The entries, in some cases, barely qualify as “serious” architecture, being closer to science fiction. However, as eVolo says, the ideas expressed in the winners “challenge the way we understand vertical architecture and its relationship with the natural and built environments.”
Polar Umbrella, First Prize winner of the 2013 eVolo Skyscraper Competition. The competition honours “creativity, ingenuity, and understanding of dynamic and adaptive vertical communities.” They will never be built, however.

That is certainly true.

The participants should take into consideration the advances in technology, the exploration of sustainable systems, and the establishment of new urban and architectural methods to solve economic, social, and cultural problems of the contemporary city including the scarcity of natural resources and infrastructure and the exponential increase of inhabitants, pollution, economic division, and unplanned urban sprawl.

The eVolo challenge for its 2013 Skyscraper Competition

The winners

First prize went to Derek Pirozzi for his Polar Umbrella, a skyscraper that reduces heat gain at the surface of the Arctic ocean and freezes the ocean’s water, helping to rebuild the ice cap. Salt water, the description tells us, is desalinized for consumption by residents of the floating skyscraper, and salt water is also used to produce energy. The huge umbrella harvests solar power, which reduces heat gain.

In case it isn’t obvious from this brief description, this is not a project that’s likely to be built any time soon. The competition is more about ideas than the practicalities of building.
Phobia Skyscraper, from France, took second prize. It’s supposed to “revitalize” the Paris suburbs, with its use of recoiled materials and its ability to be abandoned and recycled by its residents.

The second prize winner, Phobia Skyscraper from France, is a good example of how this competition challenges one’s aesthetic assumptions. Looking like a fragment of a honeycomb that has been smashed to bits, the structure consists of stacked prefabricated units clustered around outdoor common green spaces, though these are difficult to see in the images. As the description puts it, the Phobia Skyscraper is designed to “evolve as does society itself.” It is constructed of recycled materials, “byproducts of abandonment and recycling.” The building itself, “could be abandoned and once again revitalized,” if that is what the residents wanted.
Chinese entry Light Park Floating Skyscraper was given third prize in the eVolo skyscraper competition. Structures are suspended from the giant helium balloon, helping Beijing deal with overcrowding and pollution.

Third prize was awarded to a Chinese concept, Light Park Floating Skyscraper. As a way of addressing the problem of increasing population, lack of housing and recreational areas and general poor infrastructure, this idea takes the notion of building “vertical” to a whole new level. The Light Park floats, thanks to a giant helium-filled balloon and solar powered propellers. The project’s various functional areas—parks, sports fields, green houses, housing—are suspended  from the structure. Light Park helps solve the notorious Beijing air pollution problem by providing green spaces above the city to partially clean the air.

Some of the honourable mentions include a concept for skyscrapers on Mars, a skyscraper that harnesses energy from active volcanoes, and a grid of skyscapers that stretches around the entire earth’s circumference at the height of the stratosphere.



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