Sky's the limit for Nottingham's Architecture students

29 Mar 2011 13:11:48.023

PA 103/11

The future picture of high-rise, energy efficient living may have just been painted by architecture students from The University of Nottingham.

After securing the top three places in the UK’s ‘Isover Multi-Comfort House Design Competition’, the students will now compete against 60 teams from 20 countries in an international final to be held in Prague this May.

The student’s success came after they managed to incorporate a brief of fostering a creative approach to a concept of high-rise buildings, making use of energy efficient construction and passive energy options.

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While taking into account the social and economic implications of the tower, as well as the process and materials of construction, all of the skyscrapers were also designed with an eye on defining a new standard for Passivhaus at high altitude.

The quality standard previously only achieved in buildings of up to 28 storeys, required students to include systems which enabled their buildings to be entirely heated by passive gain and stored solar heat.

After considering each of the concepts put forward by the 32 teams to enter the competition, judges narrowed the field down to just eight finalists, seven of whom study at The University of Nottingham’s High Rise Architecture Studio.

The eight remaining teams then had the opportunity to present their concepts to the panel of judges, who selected three teams to represent the UK against students from all over the world.

First prize was given to Ankur Modi, Suruchi Modi and Chuyu Qiu for their concept — The Green Canyons Skyscraper. The team explained that their project is “a prototype to reconnect the city of Manhattan and achieve a cohesive identity to counter the depleting quality of life in a vertical urban sprawl”.

Yeuk Hei Wong, Xu Xu and Jianhui Chen took second place for their Social Tower Experiment concept, described as: “An experiment that breaks through the social isolation of typical skyscrapers, proposing a new-vertical street lifestyle.”

The third prize was presented to The Green Ramp team of Ranjit Shekhar, Venu Madhav Chippa and Avinash Davidson. There project was “informed by a desire to better integrate Lower Manhattan’s green spaces into the city fabric, and in particular to create a link between the site and Battery Park”.

A fourth design from The University of Nottingham — the Manhattan Sky Podium — won a public vote for the best concept, leading the team to receive an extra high commendation and an iPod Touch for each of the three members.

Nottingham is the world’s first university to offer a dedicated Masters course and qualification focused on Sustainable Tall Building Architecture. As a result staff admitted they would have been surprised had their students not featured prominently, but that they were delighted to have taken each of the top three prizes.

David Nicholson-Cole, University Teacher in the Institute of Architecture, said: “We have been teaching high-rise architecture at Nottingham for some nine years now, and over this time the Department of Architecture and Built Environment has gained the reputation as a centre of excellence in the subject internationally.

“Our students are developing new design strategies, architectural philosophies, facades, components, systems and more for the sustainable skyscrapers of the future. In the current era of climate change, energy famine and population growth, sustainability has become a primary design driver, and this applies to all aspects of urban habitat,” he continued.

“We trust that our graduates will take this wide ranging idea of sustainability into their future careers as architects all over the globe. Although we still produce designs the like of which have never been built, the visionary approach in our work has to be the future of tall buildings, and we are seeing many of these concepts appearing in modern examples in Asia, Europe and even in the United States.”

Staff believe that the students’ success will be a great lift for them in their future careers and are now hopeful that they will achieve similar success at the international Isover competition in Prague.

David Nicholson-Cole concluded: “We will do some additional work between now and May to strengthen our entries and give the students the best possible chance. We hope that our student’s pedigree of knowledge in tall building design, and the expertise we can offer them, will help give us a winning edge in Prague.”

To see the concepts and a full description of the three winners, please visit  

— Ends —

Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at:  

Story credits

For more information contact David Nicholson-Cole, Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Nottingham at 
Harry Waddle

Harry Waddle - Students Communications Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 823 2353 Location: University Park

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Published Date
Tuesday 12th November 2013

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