Concept skyscraper competition pitches fantastical buildings of the future

Vertical farms, airborne factories and vending-machine tower blocks are amongst the winners of an international skyscraper competition, offering a glimpse into the ways we could live in future cities.

The designs are all part of eVolo Magazine’s competition to find the best new concepts for future skyscrapers – an award that’s been going since 2006 and aims to “challenge the way we understand vertical architecture and its relationship with the natural and built environments”.

First place has gone to Pawel Lipiński and Mateusz Frankowski from Poland, for a building set in East Africa that integrates vertical farms with drone ports and classrooms. The Mashambas Skyscraper is described as a “movable education centre”, based around a modular design that’s easy to construct, deconstruct and transport between areas of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tianshu Liu and Linshen Xie from the US were awarded second place, for their vision of vertical factories in megacities. The plan is based on the prediction that a large portion of the world’s population will soon live in megacities. It also assumes that factory technology will grow cleaner, and can, therefore, be brought back into urban centres.

“This is the vision we have for the cities of tomorrow,” Liu and Xie explain. “Factories will be dissolved into small pieces and then be stacked together into high-rise vertical factories. By bringing factories back to the city, we can achieve zero CO2 emissions, be energy efficient, and provide higher quality of life to the inhabitants.”[gallery:1]

The results look like a geological and mechanical layer-cake, with natural (or seemingly natural) environments sandwiched between sprawling water treatment facilities or 3D printing factories. “The landscape is shaped according to the scale and shape of factories,” say the designers.

Third place has gone to Spain’s Javier Lopez-Menchero Ortiz de Salazar, who has rethought the idea of a vertical community with Espiral 3500. Instead of a levelled tower block, the design takes a horizontal town and curls it up like spaghetti on a fork. Based around the eastern coast of Spain, the design is partly a response to the effect of seasonal tourism on the local population.

“Why not place public spaces inside buildings?” asks the designer. “This tower would no longer be an element where solely private dynamics take place. The Spanish eastern coast city is the quintessential city of public and open spaces. This skyscraper explores the interesting standpoint of introducing the streets and all of the city’s horizontal plane complexity into the vertical realm.”


A number of other designs received honourable mentions, including a skyscraper built into the side of a mountain in Yosemite, a “pod vending machine skyscraper” in Tokyo, and a complex in Antarctica – resembling an enormous iceberg – that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Like concept fashion, these concept skyscrapers aren’t really intended to be realistic designs (although the Mashambas Skyscraper is arguably the most practical). They aim to provoke possible tracks of thought when considering problems facing future generations. They’re also fun to look at, and who doesn’t love a bit of utopian daydreaming on a Friday.

You can find more details and pictures of the winning designs on eVolo’s siteImage credits: eVolo

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