The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) is pleased to announce its 6th International Student Tall Building Design Competition. The goal of the competition is to shed new light on the meaning and value of tall buildings in modern society. The deadline for submission is July 24, 2017.

The age of the tall building as a single iconic piece of sculpture, standing in isolation from its surroundings, is coming to an end. Designers have a responsibility to ensure that these permanent urban structures engender a future-oriented urban response to the greatest challenges of our time: unprecedented population growth; mass urbanization; climate change; environmental degradation; social, political and economic change; and the rapid advance of myriad technical innovations.

The future of humanity on this planet relies on the collective benefits of urban density; reducing both land consumption and the energy needed to construct and operate the horizontally dispersed city. Tall buildings must now be the vehicles for creating increased density not just through sheer height, but by connecting multiple layers of the city. Physical urban infrastructure, circulation, greenery, and urban functions traditionally restricted to the ground level would all, ideally, continue up and into the building, such that the buildings themselves become an extension of the city: a part of the two-dimensional horizontal urban plane flipped vertical.

Participants are free to site their projects anywhere in the world. But this is not to undervalue the importance of site – participants should carefully consider their site (which must be a “real” site, in an existing urban location) as the site context should inherently have significant influence over the project’s design. Participants are also free to determine the size, height, function, accommodation and responsibilities of the building. The intention is these freedoms on site and program will maximize the diversity and creativity of the responses. It is also intended to allow students from specific high-rise educational studies around the world during the 2016–17 academic year to submit their projects for consideration.

Participants should engage with the exploration and resolution of the synergistic relationship of placing a tall building in a unique existing urban setting; how that tall building can be inspired by the cultural, physical, and environmental aspects of its site; and how the program of the building is influenced by the micro and macro site/urban conditions; and how the building responds to global issues. Proposals should show evidence of a clear understanding of how considerations of structure, environment, servicing, etc. are as vital to the success of a tall building as the form, materials, aesthetics, etc.

Participants need to also consider the CTBUH Criteria for defining tall buildings, such that “at least 50% of its height is occupied by usable floor area,” (i.e., proposals should be functional “buildings” not simply observation, communication, or other towers).

Some of the multi-layered elements that participants should take into consideration may include (in no particular hierarchy):

  • local climate
  • urban grain
  • neighboring buildings
  • city requirements
  • community requirements
  • social sustainability
  • environmental sustainability
  • efficiency of materials, space, and usage
  • aesthetics
  • proportions
  • local, social, and cultural conditions
  • materiality
  • new technologies
  • structure
  • innovative program/functionality
  • adaptability
  • transit/mobility
  • infrastructure
  • etc.