The skyscraper is one of the more iconic symbols of modern society. The sight of the Burj Dubai rising from the desert is a powerful visual symbol of “progress.” The engineering and manpower it takes to throw a building so far into the sky can seem unimaginable. But besides building them higher (and making them use marginally less energy) today’s newest skyscrapers remain largely the same as the Empire State Building.
But not in the future imagined by this year’s eVolo skyscraper design contest. Every year, Architecture Magazine asks architects to answer the question: What more can we do with the skyscraper? This year’s winner, pictured above, imagines the building as a place to save us from inevitable water shortages. Others envisioned buildings that would help reduce our waste or which would let us move whenever disaster struck our current homes. Click through the slide show above to see some of our favorite visions of the urban future.
All the answers are entirely fanciful; most require technology that doesn’t even exist yet. But if we could dream up the first skyscraper, some of these ideas could very well also be possible. Instead of building ever taller, maybe we could build smarter instead.