The US-based architecture and design journal eVolo focuses on technological advances, sustainability and innovative design of the century we are living now. In 2006, it has established the Skyscraper Competition in order to recognise outstanding ideas for vertical living. Since then eVolo has received over 6,000 visionary and innovative entries to this competition.
The Skyscraper Competition 2015 has received 480 entries and resulted in three winners The Oculus is part of this year’s competition, but although ambitious and visionary, it has not made it to these winning three.
The Oculus is simply a proposal for a  skyscraper in Lower Manhattan, where the sense of community refined through its mixed-use organisation and privacy scheme, from public to private, and collective to civic. It is a vertical community where one can experience natural and raw spaces full of life. The building is based on a self-sustained environment of collection, development and sustainability of natural resources. This versatile and pliable strategy benefits the users of it and the surrounding communities as well.
Courtesy of Rodrigo Carmona

Courtesy of Rodrigo Carmona

The structure embraces its site and keeps its triangular shape by extruding it vertically and essentially becoming a community of unique identity. Moreover, it aims to give solutions to problems related to global warming, shortage of natural resources and human sprawl. Reusing water, cleaning the polluted metropolis’ area and agriculture establishment are further goals of this project. An integrated vertical river collects rainwater, snow and grey-water and purifies it so as it can be used by the vertical farmland.
Courtesy of Rodrigo Carmona

Courtesy of Rodrigo Carmona

Furthermore, the proposal also includes the establishment of a public school, outdoor retail area, commercial activities, public pools, community centre, gym, business space, dwelling units, parks and mini woodlands. It is plainly a miniature city built vertically. The residents have access to anything from employment, to retail, leisure and health facilities while having majestic views of Manhattan from every spot. It is a greatly ambitious project that requires advanced technology or even technology that we have not developed yet, but yet again if it were to be built today it would most certainly have an impact in the way we live within densified cities. It has the potential of being an example or even a model of creating vertical communities in given sites around the world. It is fascinating to see young minds thinking about the future of our cities, our lives and our communities. To conclude, my opinion is that it is a great concept with a lot of thoughts and potential behind, but if it was to be built today I think the architect and contractors would face numerous issues with construction and sustainability of the place.
These motivated young minds have to be given the opportunity of designing big things. Because at the end of the day, it does not matter that this proposal has not won the competition. What it matters is that the idea is still there, and it is rapidly travelling across the internet educating people and expanding horizons.
By: Andreas Leonidou

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