A rendering of Skyscraper.zip.

  • Skyshelter.zip, a foldable tower designed for disaster areas, is the winner of the 2018 Skyscraper Competition.
  • On-site construction would not be needed. The re-usable skyscraper would be airlifted in by three helicopters.
  • The conceptual design is pure fantasy, with one writer calling it a work of "architectural fiction."

Every year, the architecture magazine eVolo holds a competition for the most innovative skyscraper concepts.

This year's first place winner is Skyshelter.zip, a tower envisioned for disaster areas by a trio of Polish architects: Damian Granosik, Jakub Kulisa, and Piotr Panczyk. Similar to a helium balloon, the lightweight skyscraper would be airlifted by three helicopters, and then unfurl into place on the ground level.

You wouldn't need a construction crew to assemble the tower, which could be deployed within minutes. When it's no longer needed, Skyshelter.zip would then be folded up like an accordion and brought to another site in need.

The tower would include a reception area, temporary housing, storage, a medical facility, and a vertical farm that would use the site's soil. Its roof would collect rainwater, which would be filtered for the building's users.

The designers write that Skyshelter.zip would be useful for places struck by earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes — weather events that may be becoming more common. Emergency shelters can often be difficult to construct in disaster zones, especially if they are in remote areas. But Granosik, Kulisa, and Panczyk write that their design for a foldable tower poses solutions to those logistical challenges, since it would be easy to transport and deploy quickly.

A rendering of Skyscraper.zip.

Attracting a pool of over 500 entries this year, eVolo's competition seeks to imagine what's possible in the field of skyscraper architecture, even if those ideas are pure fantasy.

Skyshelter.zip's design is conceptual and would likely be impossible to build. For one, the design doesn't include any structural foundation, and the tower's walls would made of fabric — which is not a particularly sound material. Quartz's Anne Quito calls the design "architectural fiction" and compares it to giant Noguchi floor lamp.

While acknowledging that awarding spectacularly implausible architecture can fuel architects' imaginations for real-world projects, Quito argues, "Writing about these conjectural designs as if they were actual proposals is propagating misinformation. When taken out of context, fictional buildings are essentially a form of fake news, or clickbait at the very least."

She has a point, but it's still fun to dream.

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