Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where to Find Vertical Innovations

Creativity and innovation are often seen as invaluable in a variety of fields, including architecture. So, where can you expect to find people producing award-winning architectural designs? Well, eVolo recently announced the winners of its 2012 Skyscraper Competition. eVolo is:
an architecture and design journal focused on technological advances, sustainability, and innovative design for the 21st Century. Our objective is to promote and discuss the most avant-garde ideas generated in schools and professional studios around the world.
According to eVolo the judges for the competition are leaders in the architecture and design fields and the competition:
... recognizes outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the use of new technologies, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations, along with studies on globalization, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution. This is also an investigation on the public and private space and the role of the individual and the collective in the creation of a dynamic and adaptive vertical community. The award seeks to discover young talent, whose ideas will change the way we understand architecture and its relationship with the natural and built environments.
Here is the 3rd place design:

"Monument to Civilization" (photo from eVolo)

Here is the 2nd place design:

"Mountain Band-Aid" (photo from eVolo)

And here is the winning design:

"Himalaya Water Tower" (photo from eVolo)

The designs have already received media attention (you can also see examples of some of the honorable mentions at TPM here). In addition to the visuals, the skyscrapers are interesting in the rationale for their design. Instead of describing them myself, I recommend reading more at eVolo about the designs "Vertical Landfill", "Mountain Band-Aid", and "Himalaya Water Tower".

That both the first and second place teams are from mainland China may come as a surprise (the third place team is from Taiwan, maybe a topic for another day). It is not uncommon for people, both Chinese and non-Chinese, to describe a relative lack of creativity and innovation in China. For a variety of reasons the results of this single competition may not strongly indicate otherwise (for example, I would be curious to learn more about the number and type of teams involved). Regardless, I believe these designs from young teams in China along with other evidence I have seen suggest that some further thinking may be required to best appreciate the issue of creativity in China.

More on this topic later.


  1. Can you expand a bit (or at least hint a wee bit more) on your last sentence, Brian?

  2. Lorin, I'll just say that I plan to share some observations that at the very least should add some "color" to the topic of creativity & innovation in China. I'll be curious to hear your impressions on them.