Samantha Perry

Sci-Fi Skyscrapers: The Architecture Competition Creating New Worlds

Samantha Perry

Taking inspiration from some of my favorite stories and sci-fi movies, I often drew maps and made up my own worlds when I was a kid. I remember sitting hunched over a large piece of paper drawing a squiggly coastline of my dream island, that may or may not have contained a river of lava somewhere in the middle. If ten-year-old me had heard of Blank Space’s architectural competition, I would have jumped on the chance to contribute some of my own renderings!

Blank Space is described on its website as “an office for thought provocation, challenging architecture to rethink its role in society by speaking about things we can all relate to”. Blank Space hosts an annual Fairy Tales competition, which prompts contestants to enter an original piece of fiction (typically fantasy, fairy tale or sci-fi) and artwork to represent their imagined world. Many submissions use creative architectural structures to represent the theme of these new worlds, like these past submissions. The accompanying piece of fiction goes along with the artwork to detail the more subtle aspects of the submission.

Hosting one of the largest architecture competitions in the world, the creators of the competition aim to do many things, including challenge current architectural norms, create new opportunities in the field of architecture and strike up a conversation with society. So entries must be creative and outside the box to ensure a good look from judges. The competition is open to anyone, and the panel of judges features prominent architects, designers and writers.

I think what I like most about this competition is seeing what the contestants decide to bring out in their imagined worlds and how that speaks to the world we actually live in. The 2017 winner, Mykhailo Ponomarenko, for example, combines landscapes and sci-fi architectural forms to comment on modern society’s relationship with nature. His submission also includes the current mixed with the future, with people posing for pictures in front of these futuristic landmarks. It’s cool to think about these submissions as a glimpse into the future. Imagine living on an island in the sky, equipped with roadways, malls and movie theaters!

Blank Space announces three winners and ten honorable mentions each year with a celebration at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Both the winners and the honorable mentions are featured in the newest volume of Blank Space’s publication Fairy Tales: When Architecture Tells a Story, but I think we can agree that we all win with this competition.

What kind of world would you design?

Did You Know?
The post at the top of the Empire State Building was originally meant as a place for dirigibles to dock. The plan was for passengers to disembark and enter the building by an open-air gangplank (yikes!) and be on the ground in just seven minutes!

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