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eVolo Magazine, an architecture and design journal with a futuristic bent, has announced the winners of its 2013 Skyscraper Competition, where architects imagine what the skyscrapers of tomorrow will look like. Hundreds of architects entered and offered up concepts for buildings, and they are some of the most science-fictional ideas we’ve seen in a while. Just a quick sample of some honorable mentions: a skyscraper that floats on a giant balloon, a shield that harnesses heat from volcanoes, and a plan for building cities inside meteorite crash sites.

Admittedly, this contest is more of a thought experiment; it’s not very likely any of these are ever going to be built. (Hopefully the one for rebuilding after the apocalypse isn’t necessary, anyway.) But still, like the best sci-fi, it gives a glimpse of the future based on technology we’re near now.

So until you’re reading this from your wood skyscraper, enjoy.


Polar Umbrella

This concept for an Arctic skyscraper took took top honors at the eVolo competition. Derek Pirozzi imagines an umbrella-shaped building that acts as a research station, where scientists can examine and battle thinning ice shelves.

Phobia Skyscraper

Second place in the competition went to the Phobia Skyscraper, designed as a residential building for Paris suburbs. It’s made of recycled materials and prefabricated units, and the architects say that, because of low cost of upkeep, the building can be abandoned and re-habitated as need demands.

Light Park Floating Skyscraper

Coming in third place, this design for Beijing imagines a skyscraper that brings parks and other green spaces to heavily developed areas. A giant balloon would suspend it in mid-air. We have some thoughts about trees on buildings, but it’s still pretty amazing. (The following images all received honorable mentions in the competition.)


Too noisy near your place? Just install one of these. This building, the architects say, could harness vibrations from noise pollution and turn it into usable energy. Honk away, taxis.


How did you build a skyscraper to space without it toppling over? Well, you can try what this plan suggests: build a network of connected skyscrapers spanning the globe, put them in the stratosphere, and let Earth’s gravity keep them up there. No ground attachment necessary.

Jellyfish Skyscrapers

So the jellyfish motif in this design is pretty _War of the Worlds_ish, but this proposal is actually to save the planet. The buildings would absorb and relegate pollutants, turning them into water or fertilizer.

Morphing Skyscraper

This design explores the idea of adding a layer of “tissue” to buildings that can then be shaped, stretched, and even connected between skyscrapers. Sounds cool, even if the idea of a building with skin is a little creepy.

Skyscrapers For Mars

If we colonize Mars, how are we going to make it habitable? Well, using mobile buildings to terraform it is definitely one of the more interesting ideas we’ve heard. The buildings would gather minerals and use them to create carbon greenhouse gases, warming the planet.

Volcano Power

We have a ton of energy going to waste because we’re not exploiting a natural resource: volcanoes. The VolcanElectric Mask would shield local areas from eruptions and, when things aren’t so intense, absorb heat to use as energy.

Earth Worm

Inspired by the humble worm, this design would be filled with soil and draw energy to power itself (and other parts of the city) by processing garbage. Kinda like a real worm. Except, you know, gigantic.

Post-Apocalypse Skyscraper

The “Zero” skyscraper system is an plan for rebuilding after the apocalypse. (Eep.) Strategically placed, self-sustaining towers would store data, and provide enough shelter, food, and water to let mankind start over. Well, can’t be too prepared?

Floating Garbage Buildings

There’s a huge patch of garbage floating around in the Pacific Ocean. It’s called, appropriately, the Pacific Garbage Patch. This building design would be built by robots that turn the waste into cubes, putting them together into one big, gross, sticky, floating building. The building could then be burnt up, either by “using space rockets exhausts during launch” or shooting it up into space and letting it burn up on re-entry.

Wood Skyscraper

Skyscrapers immediately conjure up images of concrete, but this design would be made out of wood. The coziness of a cabin while you work in a city.

Rain Water Purifiers

Look kind of like bouquets of flowers, right? That’s appropriate, since these buildings, like flowers, would catch falling rain water. They’d also be able to purify it.

Porous Building

This design, the Crater Scraper project, would help Earth heal after major asteroid strikes. Not just recover, really, but move in to the craters by building mini-cities at the bottom. Take that, space rocks.