A Glorious Collection of the Craziest Skyscraper Concepts You've Ever Seen

Eight years of "outstanding ideas for vertical living," courtesy architectural magazine eVolo.

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Nomad/eVolo

An incinerator to generate a Martian atmosphere, a structure built from ocean detritus, and a floating city for 25,000... and those are just the honorable mentions.

The architectural magazine eVolo announced the results of its annual skyscraper competition this month, and as usual, the entries are beautiful and imaginative. The prompt was "outstanding ideas for vertical living," and a quick look at the finalists, selected from a field of over 600 entries, suggests an emphasis on ideas: these aren't your neighborhood condos, and aren't likely to exist anytime soon.

But we can dream, can't we?

The winner, selected by a panel of architects, was Derek Pirozzi's "Polar Umbrella," a research laboratory-cum-tourist attraction that works to rebuild the polar ice caps. Powered by osmosis and solar panels, each Umbrella shades and helps freeze over a million square feet of arctic water. Anyone want to buy the earth several thousand of these?

 

Towers in the park, meet parks in the towers. Second place went to Darius Maïkoff and Elodie Godo's "Phobia," a stupendous, twisted spire of prefabricated housing units organized in modules around floating public spaces. The project is designed for an underused industrial area in Northeast Paris, and, according to the designers, "is open to evolutions: its parts survive abandonment and reuse; as crises explode or resolve, opportunities are offers to its inhabitants, which can choose to contest, amend or live with it."

Sounds like it could lead to Lord of the Flies: Banlieue edition (or a 21st century version of J.G. Ballard's High Rise) but we have to admit it would be an impressive place to visit.

 

Third place was awarded to "Light Park," a floating arcology by Ting Xu and Yiming Chen. How do you build in an overbuilt metropolis? Not with a meat ax, as Robert Moses suggested, but with a helium balloon.

This colossal hanging garden would provide Beijing residents with some much-needed public green space, irrigated with rain water and powered by solar panels. It could visit a different neighborhood each year.

All these and more are included in a Collector's Edition eVolo Skyscrapers book, a two-volume, 1200-page tome that collects the 300 best skyscraper designs from the eight years of the competition.

What are some of this year's honorable mentions?

The "PH Conditioner," by Hao Tian, Huang Haiyang, and Shi Jianwei, a network of floating mechanical jellyfish-shaped air purifiers:

 

The "Soundscraper," by Julien Bourgeois, Olivier Colliez, Savinien de Pizzol, Cédric Dounval, and Romain Grousellea, a prominently placed tower that converts noise pollution into energy:

 

And, of course, a cross-shaped, modular-constructed, waterproof metropolis -- "The Promised Land," by Chen Yao, Xiao Yunfeng, Li Xiaodi, Xie Rui, and Yin Xiaoxiang -- to house the living and the dead when rising seas swallow our cities:

The collector's edition of eVolo Skyscrapers is available on the magazine's website.

All images courtesy of eVolo. Top image: the "Nomad," by Antonio Ares Sainz, Joaquin Rodriguez Nuñez and Konstantino Tousidonis Rial.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.