Gallery: Sky-Terra Towers Sprout Cities in the Skies


As urban areas become more congested and dense, it becomes more challenging for city dwellers to spend time outdoors, exercise and relax. Buildings tower over public parks, blocking out the sun, while city streets are polluted with particulate matter and exhaust from vehicles. To cope with the growing need for green urban space, San Francisco-based designer Joanna Borek-Clement has envisioned these eye-popping Sky-Terra skyscrapers – not just a single building, but a network of interconnected towers that are inspired by the shape of neuron cells. This skyscraper superstructure provides a new city layer – one covered in public parks, amphitheaters, fields, and public pools and bathhouses.

One of many incredible entries in the 2009 eVolo Skyscraper competition, Borek’s Sky-Terra skyscrapers were designed with Tokyo in mind – a city that is already overly congested and wanting for public recreational space.

Sky-Terra towers consist of a narrow base with a deep and strong foundation. The towers rise up to 1,600 ft and expand out until they reach the flat top plaza layer. Bridging over existing buildings, the Sky-Terra forms a new layer for the city high above the congestion and pollution. These plazas have many options and configurations, from public parks, greenbelts, playing fields, jogging paths, amphitheaters, pools, bath houses – all with the aim of providing people with access to open space.

Joanna Borek-Clement, who also works for the Bay Area based DGA, designed many sustainable elements into Sky-Terra. The transportation system consists of interconnected foot paths, as well as 4 foot wide streets designated for bikes or small electric cars. Anything that is not a pathway or road is meant to be green space which will assist in reducing urban heat island effect. Rainwater collection will provide water for landscaping needs, and the towers’ building materials consist of modular parts that would be mass-produced to conserve resources and energy.

The inner core of each structure contains an elevator system that would transport people from the street level up to the top. Office, commercial and possibly even residential space will occupy the fins that expand from the inner core of the tower. And if you’re concerned that the plazas would block out the sun to the city streets below, the plaza levels are designed with holes and spaces between the fins that allow light to beam down. Since it is more sustainable to live within a city, innovative and creative designs like the Sky-Terra may provide beautiful and efficient solutions to give people access to healthy recreational space.

+ Joanna Borek-Clement

+ Evolo Skyscraper Competition


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  1. Andrew April 24, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I think pedestrians will miss their connection to the ground and place on the street.

  2. bmcd73 April 24, 2009 at 7:59 am

    The main diver for this project seems to be the desire to create a ‘better world’ somewhere up in the clouds, it sights existing problems such as shadows being cast from tall buildings and congestion and pollution as reasons to escape the existing plane of development.

    These issues in my opinion will only be compounded by such ideas, the overshadowing will be worse and as for pollution how exactly do they plan to stop the high winds that occur at 1600ft from blowing the pollutants from the new living plane in these utopian green spaces down to the people below? It seems that rather than solving the problems at the route of the cause this project will simply add to and displace them.

  3. Chevette April 23, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    See also William Gibson’s _Virtual Light_, Bantam, 1993.

  4. Ediotorial_Response April 23, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Hilarious. A designer from San Franciso wants to design a system of towers that contain of all things bathhouses. The person who typed up this story for the website obviously does not know of the infamous San Franciso bathouses…initially the bathouses are where AIDS spread out from and killed so many indiviuals in San Francisco. The most famous bath house in San Francisco is located down by the Pacific Ocean and it was demolished so nobody would use it ever again.

    Is this a joke?

  5. angie717 April 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Wow! I really like this concept! It’s so high up and certainly not for people afraid of heights, but it’s really taking advantage of unlimited sky space! I love how the towers connect and create a ribbed vaulting effect like a gothic cathedral. It also makes it seem more sturdy. Imagine the view from up there! I’m also not quite sure what architecture the third picture is supposed to be, and how much shadows these structures would cause on the city below. The planted trees give it a real earthy feel and the indoor pools look like fun.

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