<p>The next generation of skyscrapers might include giant spheres that float in the ocean, organic-looking patches that lean against mountainsides or icy towers in the Himalayas, according to one architecture competition's winning designs. <a href="http://www.evolo.us/category/2012/">eVolo</a>, a design and architecture magazine, <a href="http://www.evolo.us/category/2012/">posted the winners</a> of its <a href="http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/255-future-skyscrapers-competition-evolo.html">annual Skyscrapers Competition</a> March 2.</p> <p>The competition is a forum for sky-high dreams. "There are no restrictions in regards to site, program or size," according to eVolo's call for submissions. "The objective is to provide maximum freedom to the participants to engage the project without constraints in the most creative way." The results are some decidedly futuristic designs. Many depend on technologies that don't yet exist, but scientists are working on. All try to solve environmental or social justice problems their designers think will be important in the future.</p> <p>Out of 714 submissions from around the world, the judges chose three winners and 22 honorable mentions. Here are a few of our favorites.</p>
<p>Just as you might drop a water-purifying tablet into some river water scooped up during a camping trip, this ball-shaped building is designed to get dropped in the Pacific Ocean, where it would float and clean the water of <a href="http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/154-plastic-pollution-in-antarctica-oceans.html">discarded plastic</a>. A fence with a diameter of 1 kilometer would capture plastic that washes by. A facility inside the ball recycles the plastic into fish-farm structures to nurse endangered fish populations. And people could live and play in spaces in the opaque white struts around the ball.</p><p>The design, by Kim Hongseop, Cho Hyunbeom, Yoon Sunhee and Yoon Hyungsoo in South Korea, garnered an honorable mention from eVolo. They hope the ball will be a tourist attraction, according to the magazine.</a>
<p>Most cities like to ship their garbage off to landfills that residents almost never see, but this skyscraper, eVolo's third-place winner, would pack a city's trash into one big tower. The structure would <a href="http://www.livescience.com/14403-biodegradable-products-methane-landfill-garbage-greenhouse-gases.html">generate energy from the gases</a> the decomposing garbage gives off. Cars and trucks would power up at a station at the skyscraper's base.</p> <p>In a year, New York City generates enough trash for a tower 4,265 feet (1,300 meters) tall, the tower's designer, <a href="http://www.evolo.us/competition/monument-to-civilization-vertical-landfill-for-metropolises/#more-16663">Lin Yu-Ta from Taiwan, told eVolo</a>. Maybe the monuments to waste Lin calls them "Monuments of Civilization" would inspire worldwide competitions for the shortest tower and least waste, Lin said. But it's hard to imagine a city self-deprecating enough to build a nearly mile-high reminder of its detritus.
But can it outrun zombies? This design holds self-sufficient buildings inside a giant, rolling tire, so residents can simply cruise away whenever natural or political disasters hit, taking crops, livestock, housing units and a water-recycling system with them. Each wheel can support one family. Damian Przybyla and Rafal Przybyla from Poland submitted this design, earning them an honorable mention.
<p>Called the "Mountain Band-Aid," this building would hug a mountain slope and make mining-damaged mountain faces inhabitable again. Water from the building would be recycled onto the mountainside, to help plants re-grow. The design, by Yiting Shen, Nanjue Wang, Ji Xia and Zihan Wang in China, won second place in eVolo's competition.</p> <p>Shen and colleagues designed the building for Hmong people, a mountain tribal group of sustenance farmers known in the U.S. for fighting as guerillas under direction of the CIA during the Vietnam War. More recently, in southern China, they've been moved from their high-altitude villages for mining projects. The designers want to help displaced Hmong people return home.</p>
<p>These towers would collect and purify rainwater that falls in the Himalaya Mountains, and store it as ice. Then, if there's a drought in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan or China below, the towers release the water through a piping system for people to use. Zhi Zheng, Hongchuan Zhao and Dongbai Song in China submitted the design, which won eVolo's $5,000 first prize.</p> <p>Three billion people in Asia drink and water their crops with Himalaya meltwater, which feeds the Indus, Mekong, Yellow, Yangtze and other major rivers. But climate change has <a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1929071_1929070_1945667,00.html">shrunk glaciers in the Himalayas</a> more than anywhere else in the world, inciting worries that there won't be enough water in the region in the future. The towers are "meant to store plentiful water for future generations," <a href="http://www.evolo.us/competition/himalaya-water-tower/#more-16591">according to eVolo</a>. Storing the water in towers may also protect mountain towns from flash floods, which experts predict will result from the climate-driven melting of Himalayan glaciers.</p>