A look at how architecture after COVID-19 will openly embrace and integrate the outdoors

“If we can’t go outdoors, why can’t the outdoors come to us?” It sounds like the kind of question a five-year-old would ask, but dwell a little on that thought and you start realizing it’s quite an intriguing question. In fact, it’s the design brief for ODA’s latest tower designs. These tower designs from ODA Architecture try to blur the boundaries between the outdoors and indoors… they were originally conceived as a way to alter New York’s predominantly glass-and-metal skyline by introducing an aspect of greenery into it, but in a world dealing with COVID-19, they provide a much more important service by allowing us to experience the outdoors without needing to step out.

ODA’s explorations primarily focus on tower designs, in an attempt to bring versatility and a touch of greenery to NY’s overtly boxy and shiny cityscape. Architectural explorations look at residential units with dedicated ‘greenery zones’ that act as areas of social congregation for the building’s residents. Adorned with curvilinear, organic architecture, and interspersed with greenery, these areas give the residents a break from the concrete-jungle-aesthetic of the skyscraper-filled city. They act as areas of reflection and of allowing people to connect with nature and with one another. Designed specifically for the building’s residents, these ‘shared indoor gardens’ even serve as wellness areas, giving people spaces to exercise, meditate, do yoga, and just take a break from being stuck at home… all while being safely within the confines of your building!

Designer: ODA New York

The 737 Max skyscraper vertically stacks Boeing’s planes to turn them into residential complexes

“An airplane is a building that flies – so why not use it as a building material?”

Designed as an entrant for the 2020 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, the 737 Max Tower turns one of the world’s most controversial aircrafts of modern times into housing. The Boeing 737 Max made headlines after its launch in 2016, when it was revealed that the aircraft’s own internal software was causing the plane to malfunction and take nosedive. This malfunction caused two 737 Max planes to fatally crash with passengers on board, throwing the entire line of planes into question. Just as Boeing was rectifying this issue and placating the countries and airlines that had placed orders, the novel coronavirus outbreak completely halted air travel. Needless to say, the company saw a mass cancellation of orders, forcing Boeing to entirely suspend production of the 737 Max.

“What about the planes that have already been made though?”, thought designers Victor Hugo Azevedo and Cheryl Lu Xu, who’s entry into this year’s Evolo Skyscraper Competition got them an honorable mention. The 737 Max Skyscraper leverages the architectural potential of an aircraft, converting it into a series of budget residences for the homeless. The aircrafts are stacked vertically, and trimmed to form the basic shape of a literal Jenga-tower of airplanes. The fuselages are structurally sound, waterproof, and relatively sound-proof to, making them pretty suitable for living, and providing shelter for the thousands of homeless people around Los Angeles. Way to solve the homelessness problem and the surplus discontinued aircraft problem with one stone, eh!? While you’re at it, use their jet engines to power the building’s HVAC too!

Designers: Victor Hugo Azevedo & Cheryl Lu Xu.

China’s tallest building is an organic-inspired 700-meter wonder


Standing at 700 meters tall, the Shenzhen Hong Kong International Center is slated to be the third tallest building in the world, and will also be China’s tallest building. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill for Chinese property developers Shimao Group, the skyscraper will be built between the foothills of Longcheng Park and the Dayun National Park in Shenzhen, China.

The building’s sinewy, organic structure pays a hat tip to the number of sporting venues in its immediate vicinity. The designers claim that the anthropomorphic structure honors the abstract way athletes train to perform in the world-class stadiums directly adjacent to the skyscraper. “The result is a muscular expression in high-performance glass, with textured layers that define the elements of its shaped form.”

The Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Center also plans to house one of the world’s highest observation decks, alongside a restaurant, night club, spa facilities and a swimming pool, while the designers’ master-plan involves the building of a mixed-use district that also houses large retail facilities, apartment towers, a cultural centre, a five-star hotel, a library and multiple offices.

In the evenings, the tower will become “a visual, sound, and light show”, reinforcing the district’s athletic and entertainment purposes. After dusk, the tower will become “a visual, sound, and light show” for the residents of Shenzhen, also highlighting the district’s sports-oriented and entertainment-based outlook. Architecture for the Shenzhen Hong Kong International Center began in March last year, and is slated to be ready for opening in 2024.

Designers: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.





What a vertical carousel-shaped airport for LA would look like


A concept entry for the eVolo Skyscraper Competition 2018, Jonathan Ortega’s LAX 2.0 envisions creating a ground-breaking, space-saving vertical layout for one of America’s busiest airports.

He believes the current system of taking off and landing requires a massive airstrip onto which only one plane can engage in one of those activities at a time, resulting in a waste of space and a mismanagement of time. LAX 2.0 is built for planes with vertical take-off abilities, reducing the need for a landing strip, and therefore allowing the airport to assume a non-linear shape, in this case, circular. The entire periphery is lined with landing bays on which anywhere near 50 planes can dock, with more than one plane entering and exiting the airport at the same time. The new system allows airports to shrink in size yet quadruple in efficiency… it also looks positively Jetsonian!

Designer: Jonathan Ortega


Because Green is Wealth!


The Empire State Building was made as a sign of prosperity and wealth, was it not? Over time, the definition of prosperity would change to not how much money you have, but how in touch with mother nature are you. Recover Labs is a massive transparent structure built around the Empire State Building. It creates an enclosed biosphere around the building, with multiple parks/gardens at different levels. Let’s just admit that validation aside, it looks pretty cool!

Designers: Soomin Kim & Seo-Hyun Oh.





The vertical zoo of greenery


I apologise for how bleak I’m making the future seem. A few posts back, I spoke of a conceptual Space Greenhouse that would loom over the earth absorbing the sun’s radiation, slowing down, if not reversing the Global Warming process. This time, I’m here talking about an earth where mother nature has lost the battle against the humans. In a world devoid of greenery, Designers Nathakit Sae-Tan & Prapatsorn Sukkaset have envisioned the concept of Babel Towers, mega skyscrapers devoted to preserving horticultural stability within a single building. The Babel towers would play an instrumental role in the propagation of greenery in and around the area. These towers would also become attraction centers for us humans, like going to a zoo, but a zoo of plants. Seems a little sad, saying this, but I do hope that we never reach a day where the Babel Tower becomes a necessity. I however do feel that having towers like these now, in our cities, would be a beautiful idea. Don’t you think so too??

Designers: Nathakit Sae-Tan & Prapatsorn Sukkaset.




The earth’s very own sunglasses


The crazy post title got you, didn’t it! We here at Yanko pride ourselves in showcasing concepts that may seem outlandish, but speak of a lateral method of problem solving. The Global Cooling skyscraper is by all means a financial and logistical impossibility…in the present tense. However, if we think of the global cooling skyscraper as a concept, it sounds like a marvelously eccentric idea. Think of it, a massive greenhouse that stands in front of the earth and the sun. Its transparent design allows sunlight to pass through, but it absorbs a great deal of the short-wave radiation, preventing the earth from drastically heating up. It also absorbs all the heat that the earth generates too, making it doubly effective. Plus, it looks so futuristic, emerging out of the horizon like that! It’s a shame it’ll block our sunrises and sunsets, but hey, we had this coming with the way we’ve been treating our planet. Brace yourselves, George R. R. Martin was right, winter truly IS coming!

Designer: Paolo Venturella, Cosimo Scotucci