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Competition: eVolo skyscraper ideas contest

Architecture and design journal eVolo is inviting entries to its annual skyscraper ideas competition, featuring a $5,000 USD top prize (Deadline: 7 February)

Open to artists, architects, students and designers, the anonymous contest seeks conceptual proposals for dynamic and adaptive vertical communities with no limitations on size or location.

The annual call for ideas, first held in 2006, aims to promote dialogue around new approaches to urban development. Yitan Sun and Wu Jianshi’s innovative ’Sidescraper’ proposal (pictured) for New York City was named overall winner of last year’s contest.

New York City

New York City

Sidescraper by Yitan Sun and Wu Jianshi

According to the brief: ‘The competition recognises outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the implementation of novel technologies, materials, programmes, aesthetics, and spatial organisations along with studies on globalisation, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution.

‘Participants should take into consideration the advances in technology, the exploration of sustainable systems, and the establishment of new urban and architectural methods to solve economic, social, and cultural problems of the contemporary city, including the scarcity of natural resources and infrastructure and the exponential increase of inhabitants, pollution, economic division, and unplanned urban sprawl.’

Now in its 11th year, the annual programme aims to explore the relationships between skyscrapers and the natural world, local communities and the city. Conceptual designs should be adaptive, encourage self-regulation and help create a dynamic equilibrium between humans and nature.

Competition judges include Yitan and Jianshi, Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat, Manuelle Gautrand of Paris-based Manuelle Gautrand Architecture and Andrea Morgante from Shiro Studio.

Entries must include a 600-word project statement, two A0-sized presentations boards and a document containing the professional details of all team members.

The overall winner, set to be announced on 4 April, will receive a $5,000 USD prize. There will also be a second prize of $2,000 USD and a third prize of $1,000 USD.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 11:59pm (EST) on 7 February


$95 USD

Contact details


Visit the competition website for more information

Sidescraper case study: Q&A with Wu Jianshi and Yitan Sun

The co-author of last year’s winning proposal discusses lessons learned designing a conceptual ‘sidescraper’ for New York City

How did your competition-winning sidescraper project push the boundaries of skyscraper design?

Consider it as an inverted skyscraper in every aspect. Instead of going vertical, it’s horizontal; instead of going up, it’s digging down; and instead of being surrounded by landscape, it surrounds landscape and expands it beyond physical limits. It’s really an extreme case of thinking outside of the box, yet address some real problems that exist in New York City nowadays (dense street grid, building vertical, urban crawl, population growth, nature versus. artificial etc).

New York City

New York City

Sidescraper by Yitan Sun and Wu Jianshi

As a contest judge, what key global issues would you like to see participants engage with this year?

The eVolo competition is a forum that examines the relationship between the skyscraper and the natural world, the skyscraper and the community, and the skyscraper and the city. All of them are equally intriguing to us, and it could be either global or local. We are eager to see different ideas envisioned by designers from all around the world.

Why are contests such as these important to meeting the future challenges faced by architecture?

We believe imagination should always be one step ahead of technology. Though it is unlikely that any of the entries to the eVolo competition will have been submitted under any illusions that they might one day be built, we do believe it is the outlandish thinking behind these designs that is important, with these most abstract of concepts potentially containing the seed of ideas that might otherwise never be discovered.

New York City

New York City

Sidescraper by Yitan Sun and Wu Jianshi