Futuristic New York and Sustainable Sao Paulo Projects Win Zumtobel Prize

Two concepts–one proposed, one realized–took top honors in a design competition sponsored by the Austrian-based Zumtobel Group.


How can we examine ways that the built environment impacts both sustainability and humanity? The Austrian-based Zumtobel Group created an award that focuses on those contributions in architecture and engineering that can improve quality of life. The Zumtobel Group Awards were announced today with a dozen bright ideas including the two winners: A creative work environment that’s completed in Sao Paulo, and a visionary research proposal for a “self-sufficient” New York City.

In the built category, a Sao Paulo workspace named Harmonia//57 designed by French-Brazilian architects Triptyque was named as the winner. The firm was charged with creating a flexible environment on a unique site deluged with heavy rain and very high temperatures. Taking advantage of the abundance of natural resources, the designers added not only a green roof, but vertical gardens as well.

They also created a rainwater catchment system which
could store water for toilets and landscaping on bright green cisterns
on the roof.
To engage the local community in a highly-creative neighborhood, the architects stopped construction for 10 days to allow a series of programs to be held in the half-realized space, transforming the site into an open studio.


The research winner, New York City Resource & Mobility is an intensely exciting proposal for the future of New York, where hovering pod-like robots (like War of the Worlds, but friendly, we assume) will assist us with everything from transportation to farming. Architects Terrefuge/Terreform ONE created a master plan for New York that assumes the city will need to be completely self-sufficient due to rapid growth and radical climate change.

Streamlined mass transit and an efficient food supply are among the issues tackled by the master plan, which even closes the loop between a growing population and the increased trash it generates: The proposal hopes to reuse the solid waste in landfllls to build seven more Manhattan islands.

[Zumtobel Group Award]

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.