eVolo Skyscraper Competition Features Wildly Innovative Designs

Kids these days have all the fun with their computers in the annual competition.

Mask skyscraper
The Hyper-Mask Skyscraper received an honorable mention in eVolo magazine's 2022 Skyscraper Competition.

Yu Liu, Junjie Hou, Jiaxi Shi, Hailin Wu, Ronghui Yang, Jiang An

It's eVolo time again, when we look at the latest crop of entries in the annual 2022 Skyscraper Competition from eVolo Magazine. The competition, established in 2006, "recognizes outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the implementation of novel technologies, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations; along with studies on globalization, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution."

Every year, hundreds of submissions representing endless hours of work creating stunning digital representations of wild ideas compete for three cash awards that wouldn't begin to cover their costs. And every year, with the exception of 2019, I have started my coverage with the honorable mention of the submission that I think should have won. But then, they have never asked me to be a judge. There are always so many to go through—this year, the jury received 427 projects and selected three winners and 20 honorable mentions—but here are my favorites.

The Hyper-Mask Skyscraper

Hyper-mask detail
Hyper-Mask Skyscraper.

Yu Liu, Junjie Hou, Jiaxi Shi, Hailin Wu, Ronghui Yang, Jiang An

Many of the entries have environmental themes, and perhaps the most dystopian is the Hyper-Mask Skyscraper by Yu Liu, Junjie Hou, Jiaxi Shi, Hailin Wu, Ronghui Yang, and Jiang An of China. They note the local air pollution in Chinese cities is way over the healthy levels of particulate matter (PM2.5 or fine particles less than 2.5 millionths of a meter). They also note everyone is now wearing masks to deal with Covid-19, many of which are made of petroleum products and end up in the ocean.

In this entry, the designers put a flexible mask over an entire building, isolating and filtering the interior air. To move the air around, they have horizontal building blocks with filters pushing in and out, essentially turning the entire building into a giant air pump.

Living spaces
In this proposal, the living spaces are between the boxes.

Yu Liu, Junjie Hou, Jiaxi Shi, Hailin Wu, Ronghui Yang, Jiang An

Living and working spaces are built on the frame in between the moving boxes. "The design distributes the green space units between the large public space units and the living space units, and the design hopes to connect all the space units," writes the team. "These green spaces not only connect various spaces but also purify and filter the air entering the membrane. The design places a large green space at the top of the building."

Depressing, yes. But I thought it was timely, imaginative, and beautifully drawn. Evolo gave it an honorable mention.

Regenerative Highrise

Regenerative Highrise
The Regenerative Highrise is a proposed new tower at Oslo’s Grønland metro station.

Haptic Architects, Ramboll, Tomas Stokke, Shonn Mills

The Regenerative Highrise also got an honorable mention, which is understandable. But unusually for an eVolo project, one can imagine this actually being built. Where most of the entries appear to come from architecture students with time on their hands, this one comes from a legit firm, Haptic Architects, where Tomas Stokke is a director, along with engineering firm Ramboll. They have designed a truly regenerative building that can adapt and change to support different uses.

They write: "Changing needs and standards often lead to relatively new buildings being demolished and rebuilt. The proposed tower employs regenerative design at its core, thus ensuring future flexibility for change."

different uses on different platforms

Haptic Architects, Ramboll Tomas Stokke, Shonn Mills

 "A superstructure consisting of 3-story high structural decks, allows the tower to be reprogrammed over time. The triple-height sky villages are flexible and can accommodate a variety of uses, such as a single-story production space, two stories of office space, three residential floors, or even a row of terraced housing. As the pandemic has shown, needs and requirements can change suddenly, and the built fabric needs to be able to respond accordingly. The uses of the Regenerative Highrise can be changed with ease, from offices to hotel, from residential to production or leisure."

AB Walker Celestial Real Estate Company
Celestial Real Estate Company.

A.B. Walker

This is all very realistic and buildable out of "timber composite construction utilizing recycled steel frame elements and cross-laminated timber (CLT) floorplates" and "the vertical and lateral load carrying system is a combination of composite glue-laminated/steel columns and a precast concrete central core."

It is not entirely a new idea. A.B. Walker proposed something similar in 1909 for the Celestial Real Estate Company, promising "all the comforts of the country with none of the disadvantages." Perhaps its time has finally come.

City Healer

City Healer

Wang Changsi, Guo Fang

We have a climate crisis and, in many places, a housing crisis. But judging from Twitter, it appears the worst problem we face is a parking crisis, with drivers in Toronto complaining about bike lanes, in London about low traffic neighborhoods, and in New York about free parking spaces. City Healer from Wang Changsi, Guo Fang, and SiYuan Zhang of China neatly solves this problem by going vertical, with roads spiraling up to different platforms attached to the central spine, on which you can find housing units, shopping mall units, and office units.

City healer closeup

Wang Changsi, Guo Fang

They are all topped with gardens that suck up the car exhaust. This really is the perfect solution for cities where residents love cars and hate multifamily buildings. More at eVolo.

Residential Flying Unit Nest Skyscraper

flying houses and parking spaces on tower

Mohammed Pirdavari

Transit consultant Jarrett Walker famously tweeted that "land use and transportation are the same thing described in different languages." This is graphically demonstrated with the work of Mohammad Pirdavari of Portugal—a country where many people have vacation villas that sit empty much of the time, take up a lot of land, and needlessly duplicate living spaces. Instead, he proposes a flying house that you can take with you and park on a giant skyscraper.

Living unit

Mohammed Pirdavari

He writes: "A self-sufficient, flying unit, creates a totally different living experience for the residents, in which they are free to choose their ideal climatically destination, no difference how high or low, how cold or warm! An ideal accommodation, which does not add up the expenses, because it gets charged via the solar cells of the facade, and also via the connected nest. A brilliant, eco-friendly, idea that tears down mental barriers as well as economic and environmental limitations."

When the propellers are not pointing down to keep the unit flying, they tilt up and turn into wind turbines generating electricity. I am not quite sure how many batteries it takes to make a house fly but it all seems legit.

Climate Control Skyscraper

Climate Control Skyscraper
Climate Control Skyscraper.

Kim Gyeong Jeung, Min Yeong Gi, Yu Sang Gu

I suppose I have to show the first prize winner, especially because of its environmental theme. But it is really as implausible as the previous entry. The Climate Control Skyscraper (CCT) by Kim Gyeong Jeung, Min Yeong Gi, and Yu Sang Gu of South Korea "is designed to cope with climate change and overcome the current climate crisis the world is facing." It does this by making clouds and sending them to places that need rain or shade.

The team writes: "The power consumed by this gigantic skyscraper is supplied by a solar panel roof and a wind pressure generator on the lower level of the building. The heat generated by the solar energy is transferred to the high-temperature pressure tank inside the cloud generator and is used to make pure water by synthesizing hydrogen and oxygen molecules extracted from seawater. Water moves upward in the form of water vapor and passes through a wind pressure generator, generating electricity through wind power generation by pressure difference. Water vapor moving upwards is sprayed around the skyscraper in the form of clouds and stored in a membrane controlled by a control ring."

Details from drawing

Kim Gyeong Jeung, Min Yeong Gi, Yu Sang Gu, South Korea

It is all very detailed and scientific-looking, but not much more plausible than the flying houses, especially when they describe how "CCT can prevent desertification by creating clouds, creating ecosystems by creating forests, and eliminating the threat of disasters caused by heavy rainfalls by getting rid of clouds."

Notwithstanding my annual gripe about the judging, the eVolo competition is always exciting, both for the sometimes wild ideas and for the incredible drawings, such a heady mix of imagination and talent from all over the world. Someone always complains they should be spending their time on real solutions and not silly skyscrapers, but we all need a break.

See all the winners and honorable mentions at eVolo and tell us which is your favorite in the comments.

View Article Sources
  1. "Registration — 2022 Skyscraper Competition." eVolo Magazine, 17 Aug. 2021.

  2. "Hyper-Mask Skyscraper." eVolo Magazine, 2 May 2022.

  3. "Regenerative Highrise." eVolo Magazine, 2 May 2022.

  4. "Influential 'Life' Cartoon Turns 100." ArchiTakes, 5 Aug. 2009.

  5. "Residential Flying Unit Nest Skyscraper." eVolo Magazine, 2 May 2022.

  6. "Climate Control Skyscraper." eVolo Magazine, 2 May 2022.