Rain makers and sunken Central Park, are these the skylines of the future?

Story highlights

  • The eVolo Skyscraper Competition invites young architects and designers to imagine the skyscrapers of tomorrow
  • The winning design would involve installing a horizontal mirrored skyscraper in New York's Central Park

(CNN)Rain-making buildings and a bee hive-like tower covered in buzzing drones -- these are the structures that could shape the skylines of the future.

Both concepts were submitted to the annual eVolo Skyscraper Competition, which invites young architects and designers from around the world to identify technological and environmental trends or problems, and design skyscrapers that respond to them.
    This year, 489 designs were submitted, from which 3 finalists and 21 honorable mentions were selected.

    Digging deep

    The winning submission was "New York Horizon" by American designers Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu.
    'New York Horizon' by Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu
    Their concept involves digging up Manhattan's Central Park and surrounding it with a 1,000-foot reflective wall, creating a mirrored "horizontal skyscraper" to reflect the park's greenery.
    By digging down, rather than building upwards, the designers hope to "reverse the traditional relationship between landscape and architecture".
    "The Hive" tower took second place.
    Conceived as a response to the rise of drone technology, the tower is covered in drone landing docks, and was designed by Hadeel Ayed Mohammad, Yifeng Zhao, and Chengda Zhu of the United States.
    In third place was the "Data Skyscraper" -- a green data center located in Iceland, which Italian designers Valeria Mercuri and Marco Merletti hope could reduce the carbon footprint of traditional energy guzzling data centers.

    Dark side

    Some submissions imagined a darker future for mankind.
    The "Return to Nature" tower flips the dynamic between mankind and its environment.
    The creation of Thailand's Nathakit Sae-Tan and Prapatsorn Sukkaset is set in a world where mother nature is the primary consumer of buildings, while humans are reduced to "parasites of the planet".
    Equally dystopian, "Cloud Craft", by Michael Militello and Amar Shah of the United States, inhabits a world exhausted by drought, where rain has to be purposely manipulated by frequent use of cloud seeding.
    See highlights from the eVolo Skypscraper Competition in the gallery above.