In Pictures: Remarkable Designs for Future Skyscrapers

Today eVolo Magazine announced the winners of its annual skyscraper design competition, which is a competition that has been running for eight years to “recognize outstanding ideas for vertical living through the novel use of technology, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations.”

With a top prize of $5,000, the competition is always hotly contended, attracting designs from architects, students and designers from around the world.

Here we pick our ten favourites from the winners and honourable mentions.

Winner: Vernacular Versatility

Designer: Yong Ju Lee

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This beautiful design is based on the traditional wooden structural system used in Korean houses, known as Hanoks. But Hanocks have traditionally only been one storey: Ju Lee has really innovated in making the structure work as a skyscraper.


Second Place: Car And Shell Skyscraper: Or Marinetti’s Monster

Designers: Mark Talbot, Daniel Markiewicz

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This city in the sky proposal is designed for the US city of Detroit. Designed in a grid system encompassing recreational and commercial areas, the design comes with a manifesto for the bankrupt city.


Honourable Mention: Sand Babel: Solar-Powered 3D Printed Tower

Designers: Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya, Guo Shen
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This desert-based design is meant as a tourist attraction-cum-research facility made by 3D printing sand. The project takes inspiration from various natural elements to create and beautiful and organic-looking structure.


Honourable Mention: Climatology Tower

Designers: Yuan-Sung Hsiao, Yuko Ochiai, Jia-Wei Liu, Hung-Lin Hsieh
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This design is for an urban research centre to assess a city’s climate and improve the environment with mechanical engineering. The project is designed to be a kind of doctor for a city, identifying microclimate problems and taking steps to resolve them.


Honourable Mention: Hyper-Speed Vertical Train Hub

Designers: Christopher Christophi, Lucas Mazarrasa
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This design is a proposal for a future transport hub that utilises the vertical exterior of the building for tracks as a way of saving increasingly fought-over space. The carriage interiors will pivot like a ferris wheel, ensuring that passengers always remain upright.


Honourable Mention: Bamboo Forest: Skyscrapers and Scaffoldings In Symbiosis

Designer: Thibaut Deprez
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This design takes inspiration from bamboo scaffolding, which is used in many parts of Asia, to create skyscrapers that are extremely flexible in use. A grid design means each unit can be easily customised, enabling occupants to adjust the space to meet their needs.


Honourable Mention: PieXus Tower: Maritime Transportation Hub Skyscraper For Hong Kong

Designers: Chris Thackrey, Steven Ma, Bao An Nguyen Phuoc, Christos Koukis, Matus Nedecky
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Designed as a transportation hub for the ever-crowded Hong Kong, this project is intended to neighbour the main ferry terminal. The flowing shapes around the outside not only look amazing but also serve a purpose: they allow cars to drive up the tower to access shops, business shapes and residential areas.


Honourable Mention: Hyper Filter Skyscraper

Designer: Umarov Alexey
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This pine cone-like design provides a valuable environmental function to smoggy and polluted cities: it ‘breathes’. Each tube-like protrusion is designed to inhale carbon dioxide and other harmful gases and exhale concentrated oxygen, cleaning the air of cities in a striking and unusual way.


Honourable Mention: Project Blue

Designers: Yang Siqi, Zhan Beidi, Zhao Renbo, Zhang Tianshuo
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Polluted air was a definite trend this year: Project Blue is also designed to tackle city smog, but this time with an added benefit. The structures are upside-down cooling towers that extract surplus carbon dioxide and convert it into water coal, which can in turn be converted into methane for use as fuel.


Honourable Mention: Urban Alloy Tower

Designers: Matt Bowles, Chad Kellog
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This stunning design is intended for existing cities such as New York to create new living space without needing to knock down buildings. It sits around existing transport interchanges, and uses a unique structural method to maximise both views and light access.


Images courtesy of eVolo.


Driverless Cars: Could Vehicle Ownership be Relegated to History?

Driverless cars could eventually result in the death of car ownership, according to Phil Williams, project manager of the Technology Strategy Board special interest group Robotics and Autonomous Systems.

Williams, who was speaking at RE.WORK’s AI & Robotics Innovation Forum, said: “The likelihood is that we will see a reduction of car ownership”.

He said that transport was likely to move towards being a service. “Today it’s called a taxi,” he added. “In 10 or 15 years time it might be an easy car.”

This change would be likely to come about because payment-per-trip would increasingly become the most affordable option. Williams highlighted how insurance, MOT and road tax are already proving too expensive for some, and suggested that as driverless cars became mainstream they would make the cost of individual journeys much cheaper.

The percentage of young people learning to drive in developed countries has been on the decline over the past few years, a trend that experts are connecting with rising costs of car ownership and driving lessons and the increase of online activities.

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Hugo Elias, senior engineer at Shadow Robot Company, also indentified a likely move towards driverless taxis and away from ownership.

“By 2020 every car manufactured in the past 10 years will be driverless, 10 years after than perhaps all cars will be driverless,” he said.

“Perhaps at some point in the future almost nobody will own their own cars.”

He argued that this could result in fewer cars in operation. Unlike now where most cars spend a large percentage of their service life sat in garages or driveways, driverless taxis could run almost all of the time, meaning a smaller number would be needed for the same number of people.

This, Elias believes, could have an impact on the design of cities. There would be a move away from car-centric cities such as Los Angles, and a rise in smaller cities built to accommodate pedestrians and bikes, such as Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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However, Paul Newman, BP professor of information engineering at the University of Oxford, was keen to stress that fully driverless cars that would operate completely autonomously were a long way from being a reality.

“This is a technology that’s going to blend over time. It’s not going to be a step change,” he said.

Newman, who is involved in the development of the first road-legal driverless car in the UK, argued that the technology that is underdevelopment at present is “hands-free driving” that still requires drivers to be alert and ready to take control.

“Insurance will disable the car if you sleep in it,” he said.

He did concede that truly driverless technology could eventually be possible, but argued that this was a very long time away. Newman said: “Maybe many, many, many, many years down the line you may not be facing forwards.”


Images courtesy of Mike and Maaike.