Editors’ Choice
2020 Skyscraper Competition

Lukas Kaufmann

Payam was the only person I’ve met who witnessed a time before the great war, before … peace.

I had seen him often, sitting in the sky bar and glancing over Berlin. One day, he was asked to hold a lecture at one of the auditoriums here. Of course, I was curious about what he would have to say, after living and working in an Omnicontinental Treehouse for such a long time. Since I just had been drafted and moved to Berlin from Barcelona, I didn’t know a lot of people in the building yet, so I eagerly joined the class. The room was filled with people from all over the world, while he silently stood there in front of us, slightly leaning on his cane.

He was born 2013 in Beirut, studied architecture and biochemistry in Teheran and Nairobi.

After the Third World War (2028-2030) mankind finally got to its senses and started working together as a unit. All the money that has been spent on military and other unnecessary, unsustainable things was slowly being invested in the global unification and collaboration towards a common goal. Solving a shared problem, that has long become more than just an imminent thread, has helped to produce more and more open-minded, well educated human beings – generation for generation.

Mr. Zaarhoon told us that he had not been drafted – like me or most of the other persons in the room. He applied for the position. Within the first couple of years after completion, each of the six Omnicontinental Treehouses had to fill their spaces with thoughtfully elected men and women from all nations on earth. So when you were from a relatively small country, you had good chances, he said.

At first, I was just overwhelmed by the architecture. A carbon-negative, naturally ventilated and low-tech, energy and food independent skyscraper, situated in a giant park in the heart of a beautiful city. But the impulse after its realisation in 2041 had not only affected architectural matters – it caused breakthroughs and benefits on a global humanitarian and political scale.

Berlin was the first of its kind. The plans to build one of these ‘research citadels’ on each continent had been kept secret for a certain trial period before they got released and became reality.

A building, where every nation on this planet is required, welcome and represented. Where nothing exists but symbiosis and harmony. Its urge to be constructed arose not plainly due to social terms or concerns, but merely because of the alarming need to figure a way out of the self-fulfilling destiny that mankind had to fear for far too long. Now, people from all fields and classes, with all kinds of backgrounds began to be recruited to live and work together in the same house.

“Together we can unify and create a healthy, long-lasting and emphatic, planetarian society.” – was one of their slogans. Some people were suspicious, whether the project would succeed. At this time, the overall concept of international collaboration at this range was still classified as utopian.

In architecture, critical activity has always been connected with the concept of utopia; utopia is not an alternative model: it puts forward unresolved problems; it is not ‘problem-solving’ but ‘problem-finding’. One could say that the original motive of utopia is hope. The revolutionary charge of utopia, the hope which is at its foundation and the criticism which is its direct consequence, bring back its dignity as a rational, ordering activity. 1

It was somehow hard to imagine, that the inter- and on continental, peaceful togetherness – as we know and cherish it today – still had been some sort of romantic scenario; an ideal world; one that just had started to evolve slowly…

 1. Extract of the memoirs of Payam Zaarhoon, born 2013 in Beirut. Architect. Worked and lived in the 1st Omnicontinental Treehouse in Berlin from 2042 until his death in 3001.

Comments are closed.