When you say the word skyscraper, do you always think of a tall rectangle? Is it freestanding? Is there one main entrance? Australian architecture student Josephine Turner takes issue with these, and other assumptions about what skyscrapers are, what they should be, and how they can function individually, within a system of other buildings and for the city as a whole.

In designing a skyscraper complex, Turner has proposed a network of “skylinks that connect elevated urban plazas” for the Bangaroo district of Sydney, Australia. Her design, the “Bangaroo Sky Village,” incorporates the elements of the skyscraper that Turner would like the public to rethink; for example, her towers are designed as stacked triangle shapes instead of rectangles, and they are rotated to give help soften the sharp geometrical look of the buildings. Using triangles to construct a massive building, she says, is exceedingly efficient when distributing weight, and therefore can allow for a more creative layout within the building.

In her design, Turner uses reinforced “spider joints” to allow for the triangular shaped modules to be stacked into towers of varying height, so as to weave artfully into the existing city landscape. The different levels in the towers are connected with skybridges that are open, fostering a pedestrian, community environment. Agricultural levels are staggered throughout the buildings, interspersed between residential, commercial and office levels, and are fed through a hydroponic system throughout each building that brings water for the crops. Read the rest of this entry »

A starkly modern grid-patterned skyscraper within the heart of Los Angeles, the Vertical Campus, designed by architects Gail Peter Borden and Brian D. Andrews, is a tower that “engages urbanity,” and seeks to energize and engage the community by re-orienting the landscape from the city’s horizontal sprawl to a vertical complex.

The tower is located over the Los Angeles River, using the building’s base to generate hydroelectricity, and is a mix of residential, commercial, garden and civic spaces.

Instead of just being a skyscraper, though, the Vertical Campus seeks to help re-envision how to unite people through design, how to house new growth in an already dense city, and how to blend complex building systems to unite an existing complex urban fabric. The building will, through its design and also programmatic elements, be a literal bridge that unites the people of different economic and social classes that currently reside on the opposite sides of the river.

In terms of what it houses and how it’s powered, the Vertical Campus has it all. Wind turbines join the hydroelectric to provide energy, as does photovoltaic film; horizontal farms breed algae for energy use while hanging gardens grow vegetables and flowers for residents; rainwater is collected and purified; and all of the city’s transportation paths – bike, pedestrian, car, subway, train – run across the building’s base, unifying the building in another way with its landscape. Read the rest of this entry »

Suspension City, comprised of complexes of housing, office and commercial sites built within abandoned quarries in the sprawling outskirts of Santiago, Chile, seeks to blend into the spread out landscape while improving its conditions.

Designed by Robert Alexander and Catherine Burce, the city uses a matrix of woven metal hills to hold pillars that reach to the bottom of the quarries, with office and residential units suspended from the pillars as they descend. Using both the art of M.C. Escher and the structuring of a beehive by the beekeeper to maximize space and accessibility as inspirations, the pair have created a design that seeks to combat sprawl by filling in the very mines whose wealth supported sprawl’s explosion in the area.

The hilly matrix that shields Suspension City has roads woven into its grid, connecting it to the surrounding existing development, and also large holes to expose the city below to sunlight. The city descends as deep as 70 meters in some places. Read the rest of this entry »

McGill University architecture students Yan Jie Chen and Camille John have designed, directly across from Montreal’s Old Port, a skyscraper of glass and gardens that houses residents of the 2030s in the Néocité, a cultural revitalization project seeking to transform Montreal’s Cité du Havre.

The inspiration for the design of “Hanging Gardens” is playful yet complex: the building is based on a Chinese puzzle game with six unique, interlocking rectangles that can only be arranged in one certain way so that no spaces exist between the pieces. The students took this model and stacked it 20 times, rotating as they went, to create a 220-meter tower. The tower has a core that is wrapped by two “identical helices” that twist clockwise until the height reaches 86 stories tall.

This geometrical precision results in a skyscraper that can house 250 apartment units, and also has ample private and public outdoor gardens, meeting grounds and meditation spaces. Read the rest of this entry »

The war-torn city of Amiens, France faced the same difficult task presented to many European cities in the aftermath of World War II: find places to house the city’s urban population displaced by mortar shells and bombs. The result was an odd mix, say emerging architects Sylvian Hilaire and Pierre Loeulof Lyon, France, of high-density buildings sprawled from one another across the city, with vacuous voids in between.

As time progressed to modern day and the mid-sized city in northern France recovered, the housing trend turned to that of individual homes. If Amiens was to be suburbanized, the citizens at least wanted a low-density lifestyle to go with it – provided, of course, that shopping amenities were still nearby.

Seeking to combat the resulting “inconsistent urban spread,” and retain a sense of community, the architects have responded to Amiens’ situation by designing a 74-floor tall skyscraper that serves to refocus the city around one center, which is the building itself. By serving as the culminating point in a route that includes the city’s most important stops – the cathedral, the citadel, the college – the tower city is located right before the cut-off barrier of the highway, meaning it is connected to the rest of Amiens, and still within its boundaries. Read the rest of this entry »

Enter any skyscraper in New York City, and you’ll likely have to provide personal information and have a mug shot taken to even approach the elevator bay – and that’s only if you have an appointment, or permission to be there. This reality disturbs Brooklyn architect Clara Klein: though a proponent and designer of the skyscraper form herself, Klein feels that its very nature is isolating, exclusive, and detrimental to the urban goal of promoting ample public space within a city center.

So how does she propose mitigating the intrinsic displacement of public space and natural resources that comes with building a new structure? Make sure the skyscraper has ample space open for the public, of course. Within her geometrically-patterned cylindrical tower, Klein designed a building with space for typical residences and offices, but she has also interspersed areas for an ice skating rink, a concert venue, a park, a market, and direct access to the Brooklyn Bridge, a pedestrian icon that links Manhattan and Brooklyn, all within the building. And while the residences and offices are permanent, the public spaces within the building have the ability to evolve and change with the season, or public demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Situated between the Golden Mile, a bustling commercial sector, and barrios of impoverished residents, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico is located in an important, and ever-evolving spot. This makes the location ideal, says architecture student Clara Tresgallo Parés, for an innovative skyscraper: because of its visible location en route to Old San Juan, which is visited by large numbers of tourists annually, a creatively designed build would be admired by countless people passing through.

As the first true skyscraper in Puerto Rico, Parés seeks to design a structure that will inspire her countrymen, and that Puerto Ricans can identify with. She does this by basing her design on the twisting branches of mangrove trees that sit in a river just ten feet from the building site. The branches of the tree braid together to create an “interlaced net,” and in this way give the tree an incredibly strong base; by giving her skyscraper the same strong foundation, the building can reach high and house apartments, businesses, public spaces and even a hotel within. Also like branches, the skyscraper whole is actually a composite of many; the building is really four separate towers that twist together. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s like the largest, most attractive Brita pitcher ever created – and you could live in it.

By placing their skyscraper directly in the Mapocho River, which flows directly through Santiago, the capital of Chile, five architecture students from the Universidad de Chile have designed a modern, honeycomb-like structure that not only provides space for housing and commercial endeavors, but filters the water as it flows through its lower levels.

The dirty river’s pollution manifests problems throughout the capital city, the students say. So as the murky river reaches their skyscraper, networks of microscopic filaments clean the water; the structure continues horizontally to create a giant “L,” with polygonal forms to hold vegetation so that the area acts as a lagoon. This manmade wetland completes the processes of decanting and phytoremediation, cleansing the river and city simultaneously. To celebrate the restored environment, a large city park is then planned for the banks of the purified Mapocho River. Read the rest of this entry »

Elements of natural beauty can often astound visually, but they are always infinitely more awe-inspiring when one considers the millions of complex details involved in their existence. Leng Pau Chung, an architecture student in Sarawak, Malaysia, harnesses this wonder in the skyscraper complex Mangrove City: the buildings mimic nature in their holistic form and evolutionary capabilities, but Chung shows the complex’s beauty through the details.

Set amongst mangrove wetlands, the buildings combine complex “green” technology and materials to create a structures that, like the mangroves that surround them, will endure.

Plans for a wind turbine, rainwater harvesting, seawater filtration, daylight shutters, and water and energy distribution throughout the complex are fleshed out in great detail in Chung’s eVolo skyscrapers entry. As an example, Chung shows how, during different times of the day, the buildings’ solar integrated ETFE film can be repositioned to best generate energy and filter incoming sunlight. Read the rest of this entry »

A honeycomb of separate but unified residences rising high in the skies of Johor Bahru, Malaysia can help house the influx of new residents moving to the area in coming years, say Atta Irdrawani Zaini and Ungku Norani Sonet, architecture students in Sarawak, Malaysia.

The two have designed a skyscraper to help hold the area’s new population, which is expected to nearly double from its 2005 numbers by the year 2025, according to the area’s growth management plan. Zaini and Sonet note in their “Dense.City” entry to eVolo’s skyscrapers competition, interestingly, that Johor Bahru is already a “high-rise jungle,’ and that many area skyscrapers have been abandoned mid-construction due to lack of demand. Though they argue that skyscrapers should only be built when density deems necessary, their building will be fully utilized as the population grows, they believe. High-density structures such as their own have the added benefit, they say, of forging a sense of community amongst residents. Read the rest of this entry »