The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) is pleased to announce its 4th 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 August 10, 2015.

As worldwide populations continue to urbanize and grow, the role of the tall building in the twenty-first century has moved beyond simply addressing spatial and economic efficiencies. The permanence of these structures necessitates careful forethought into how they will interface with the surrounding urban context, the natural environment, their inhabitants, and the world as a whole.  Although they are statically embedded in our cities, skyscrapers must employ a dynamic spatial and functional dialogue, allowing them to remain active and relevant for not just decades, but centuries.

The interplay with local culture is critical, as it not only adheres a project appropriately within a city, but communicates the values and imperatives of a place to a global audience. This communication can be meaningfully imparted in many ways – from building form, design inspiration, and motifs; to employed materials, technologies, and urban arrangement. Given the rise of international participation in the tall building world, we find ourselves at defining moment – where small decisions made today on a local scale can enable sweeping change worldwide.

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 2014–15 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; 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.