We often marvel at ultra-tall skyscrapers and think of them as a feat of engineering and a symbol of human ingenuity, but if the winner of the 2016 eVolo Skyscraper Competition has anything to say about it, the future of skyscrapers could lie underground, not in the clouds.
In a move that goes directly against the word "skyscraper", a team of architects recently designed an underground megastructure, dubbed New York Horizon, that would sink Central Park and surround the walls of the newly created pit with a building.
Basically, Central Park would live inside a gigantic hole in the middle of Manhattan with a structure wrapping around its sides, giving residents of the building a unique view of the park from behind reflective glass.
According to the team, the design is meant to reverse the relationship between landscapes and architecture. While buildings generally skew the natural landscape, the new design would effectively disappear into it, an idea that is furthered by the use of reflective glass that would make the park look infinite to those in traditional buildings looking in from above.
As the architects put it:
"The 1000-feet tall [304 metres], 100-feet deep [30 metres] mega-structure provides a total floor area of 7 square miles [1.6 km], which is about 80 times greater than the Empire State Building. Wrapping all four sides of the new Central Park. This system breaks the traditional perception of large-scale skyscrapers without taking valuable ground area of Manhattan."
The general idea would be to excavate Central Park and relocate the soil to neighbourhoods (although what these neighbourhoods would then do with this soil isn't exactly clear). Then, builders would have to figure out how to create a large building underneath the streets that surround the park.
If all of this sounds impossible, that's because it is. The design is purely conceptual because, in order to pull it off, vast subterranean infrastructure would need to be revised in one of the busiest cities in the world.
Not to mention that completely destroying and rebuilding Central Park is something utterly ridiculous, but that's what the competition is all about - exploring avant-garde ideas that are Willy Wonka-level insane.
The second and third place winners of the 2016 eVolo Skyscraper Competition are equally ridiculous. The second, called the Hive, proposes an enormous tower filled with drone docking stations. The idea is to provide an airport for drones as they integrate more and more into our lives.
Third place went to a project called Data Tower that is basically a giant pile of servers that could, hypothetically, serve up most of the world's data, Stu Robarts reports for Gizmag.
With ideas like these floating around, the world of architecture seems ready to leap into the future. It's too bad that the people who would need to fork out billions for such structures to exist are not.
But that's not going to stop scientists, engineers, and architects from dreaming up the impossible, and just maybe, from those crazy ideas, something practical - and equally as incredible - will come.
You can check out all of this year's winners and honourable mentions on the competition's site.