Himalaya Water Tower

Himalaya Water Tower
Zhi Zheng, Hongchuan Zhao, Dongbai Song
China

These buildings--which won the contest--are designed to harvest the water trapped in Himalayan glaciers, where 40% of the world’s fresh water currently resides. The buildings sit on a series of pipes which are sunk deep into the glacier, pulling water up for the residents.

Mountain Band-Aid

Mountain Band-Aid
Yiting Shen, Nanjue Wang, Ji Xia, Zihan Wang
China

In response to Chinese mining that is slowly ripping out the insides of the country’s mountains, this building would help remediate some of that damage while also allowing the villagers who were displaced by the mining to replicate their former tiered living situation.

Monument to Civilization: Vertical Landfill for Metropolises

Monument to Civilization: Vertical Landfill for Metropolises
Lin Yu-Ta
Taiwan

This skyscraper doesn’t actually provide homes to any city residents. It does, however, store its trash. If you took New York’s annual garbage production and fit it into a silo, it would be three times the height of the Empire State building. These buildings would be constructed in cites both to create an opportunity to harvest energy from the trash, but also as a potent reminder of wastefulness: the shorter a city’s trash building, the more sustainable it would be.

Migrant Skyscraper

Migrant Skyscraper
Damian Przybyła, Rafał Przybyła
Poland

Sometimes places get so bad--whether because of environmental or manmade disasters--that the best option would be to just pick up and leave. But once you’ve invested time and money in building a skyscraper (and a whole city), that isn’t so likely. That’s where these tire-tread covered skyscrapers could come in handy. When things get bad, they can just roll out of town until they find a new, safe place to call home.

House of Babel: Post-crisis Skyscraper

House of Babel: Post-crisis Skyscraper
MADETOGETHER – Nikita Asadov
Russia

The previous design might have let you and all your neighbors move locations quickly, this one gets rid of neighbors entirely. The first story is located on ground level, the second is as high up in the air as you want. A quick and easy way to get rid of neighbors and stay out of whatever bad things are happening on the ground.

Plastic Fish Tower

Plastic Fish Tower
Kim Hongseop, Cho Hyunbeom, Yoon Sunhee, Yoon Hyungsoo
South Korea

This building is designed specifically to help mitigate the plastic floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Besides providing homes with beautiful underwater views, the building would suck in plastic and reprocess it, eventually cleaning up the Garbage Patch.

Human Rights Skyscraper in Beijing


Ren Tianhang, Luo Jing, Kang Jun
China

In a place where owning property isn’t really possible, this building was designed to symbolize the rights of everyone to a private home. But expanded beyond Beijing, it could serve as an antidote to continued urban sprawl. Even as cities become more and more populous, some people will always long for the house and yard that living in the suburbs afford. Now they can have both.

Cliff Dwellings

Cliff Dwellings
PLUG: Román J. Cordero Tovar, Eric Israel Dorantes, Daniel Justino Rodríguez, Izbeth K. Mendoza Fragoso
Mexico

We’re using up more and more of our available land, and despoiling that pretty quickly. Architecture with smaller footprints is increasingly prized. But there is a way to get a building with a truly non-existent footprint: Build it on the side of a cliff.

Coal Power Plant Mutation

Coal Power Plant Mutation
Chipara Radu Bogdan
Romania

As much progress as clean energy is making, coal power is going to be a part of our energy mix for a long time. But what if we could prevent that pollution from getting into the atmosphere, while also providing some great living situations. These skyscrapers would sit on top of smokestacks, sucking up the exhaust and turning it harmless (while using as much as possible to power the building).

2012-03-07

Co.Exist

The Insane Skyscrapers Of The Future

From buildings sucking water from Himalayan glaciers to round towers that let residents escape from danger, here are 10 ways that architects imagine how the quintessential urban building might look.

The skyscraper is one of the more iconic symbols of modern society. The sight of the Burj Dubai rising from the desert is a powerful visual symbol of "progress." The engineering and manpower it takes to throw a building so far into the sky can seem unimaginable. But besides building them higher (and making them use marginally less energy) today’s newest skyscrapers remain largely the same as the Empire State Building.

But not in the future imagined by this year’s eVolo skyscraper design contest. Every year, Architecture Magazine asks architects to answer the question: What more can we do with the skyscraper? This year’s winner, pictured above, imagines the building as a place to save us from inevitable water shortages. Others envisioned buildings that would help reduce our waste or which would let us move whenever disaster struck our current homes. Click through the slide show above to see some of our favorite visions of the urban future.

All the answers are entirely fanciful; most require technology that doesn’t even exist yet. But if we could dream up the first skyscraper, some of these ideas could very well also be possible. Instead of building ever taller, maybe we could build smarter instead.

See eVolo's site for the whole collection of winners and runners-up.

Add New Comment

2 Comments

  • JenLouise

    Love the photos! Unfortunately for some reason I can only see the first 2-3 lines of the description and can't scroll to read the rest :(