Is This What Post-Pandemic Skyscrapers Should Look Like?

Italian architecture firm Lissoni Casal Ribeiro has envisioned a new type of high-rise that accommodates an entirely self-contained community in the heart of New York.

Nathan Bahadursingh Nathan Bahadursingh

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Italian architect Piero Lissoni and his studio Lissoni Casal Ribeiro have designed a conceptual skyscraper in New York that would serve as a self-contained community and vertical urban farm. Winning honorable mention in the Skyhive 2020 Skyscraper Challenge, the project, entitled “Skylines”, imagines the possibilities of sustainable urban living for the future.

Lissoni Casal RibeiroThe idea for the concept is in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted many of the frailties within the built environment. As stated by Lissoni Casal Ribeiro, “The year 2020 and the arrival of a global pandemic have indeed highlighted our weaknesses and shortcomings at a structural level, causing us to devise new ways of thinking about the city and the infrastructures.”

Lissoni Casal RibeiroInspired by nature, “Skylines” proposes a self-sufficient and multi-use ecosystem that provides its own energy and resources, along with housing, schools, sports facilities and a hospital. It would use geothermal energy and photovoltaic panels for power and use a rainwater recovery system and water use management for water. The concept also includes extensive gardens and cultivated platforms for everyday needs. According to the studio, these platforms would be covered with trees and shrubs over time, creating a true “vertical urban forest”.

Lissoni Casal RibeiroLissoni Casal Ribeiro imagines “Skylines” to sit on an 80-by-130-meter plot in New York City. A main central core would host the primary functions and would be surrounded by large hanging gardens, supported by an external curtain of steel cables. These cables serve as both the structure and the façade.

The functions of the tower would be distributed vertically, with public and cultural activities on the lower levels and the greenery and sports facilities above this. The hospital will also be immersed in greenery and “well-equipped to face any health emergency”. Above this, Lissoni Casal Ribeiro envisions schools, a university and spaces for offices and co-working. Finally, residences will be placed on the top floors to take advantage of the views.

With “Skylines”, Lissoni Casal Ribeiro has imagined a new type of architecture that is well-equipped to sustain itself and its inhabitants regardless of any type of external occurrence. And, the studio isn’t alone. Barcelona-based studio Guallart Architects has presented its winning entry for the design of a self-sufficient, post-COVID city in China’s Xiong’an New City.

Titled “The Self-Sufficient City”, the project combines architectural languages from Europe and China to create an urban environment where people can live, work, while producing resources for the surrounding area.

Given the tremendous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had, new approaches within the AEC industry must be made to mitigate the effects of future lockdowns and pandemics. Making resources readily available for people minimizes risk, while creating healthy and sustainable environments within ever-expanding urban areas.

“Skylines” and “The Self-Sufficient City” seem like steps in the right direction to seeing this possibility become a reality.

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All images via Lissoni Casal Ribeiro and Guallart Architects

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