Sydney architecture firm NBRS+Partners has won an international design competition for its vision of a 21st century steel tower.

NBRS+Partners, working with engineering firm ARUP, were named co-winners of the 2014 Living Cities Design Competition, which required entrants to design a dense tower suitable for New York City.

This year’s theme encouraged entrants to explore a multi-residential solution to serve growing urban populations, particularly in places like Manhattan. According to Living Cities, demographers predict that New York will be home to an additional one million residents by 2040.


NBRS+Partners’ VIVO on the High Line

The competition design brief required professionals and students in architecture and engineering to design a 30-to-40-storey tower with a steel structural system that could hold a minimum of 200 dwellings and would be suited to one of the five boroughs of Manhattan.

Under the design leadership of principal Andrew Duffin, the NBRS team’s winning project was entitled VIVO on High Line. It consists of a 40-storey twisting skyscraper that echoes the community created through New York’s elevated High Line and the overall energy of the city.

The dynamic design features a network of nodes all within 20 minutes from the residential dwelling base, offering a cleaner, greener, pedestrian and cycling-focused urban area.


VIVO’s steel structure allows for flexible internal space

“The podium screen engulfs the High Line folding it in and extending the lifeblood into the building base, like capillary action drawing it vertically,” said the NBRS team. “It’s a hybrid structural system where the triangulated diagrid system acts as an exoskeleton providing lateral stability and vertical support.”

“This frees the internal space from needing internal intermediate structure allowing ultimate flexibility for remodelling or use changes over its life span.”


VIVO’s steel structure

As per the design brief, which required the tower to have an energy efficient curtain wall system, NBRS designed a multi faceted façade and skin that adjusts to capture natural light and offer ventilation.

The other winning project, entitled Urban Alloy, is an interconnected structure that sprawls and connects with current transport infrastructure rising above elevated train lines and freeway interchanges.

Designed by Chad Kelogg, Matthew Bowles and Nina Mahjoub of AMLGM, the steel project explores the benefits of living close to transportation hubs.


Urban Alloy, joint winner for their sprawling tower network

“Unlike concrete structures that benefit from a very regular floor to floor height because of the need to reuse formwork, steel structures can efficiently be constructed with each unique member cut by an automated system,” the architects said.

Both winners were awarded US$10,000 and the opportunity to attend a New York conference earlier this year.