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Francis Wilmore, Jennifer Cramer, and Courtney Brinegar Win Special Mention in 2009 Skyscraper Competition

A project by Michigan Architecture students Francis Wilmore, Jennifer Cramer, and Courtney Brinegar has been selected as a special mention for the 2009 Skyscraper Competition organized by eVolo Architecture, which called for “innovative designs that take into consideration the historical and social context, the existing urban fabric, the human scale, and the environment.” The group’s project is called “niu shu” and was originally created for the team’s graduate studio with Max Fisher visiting professors David Erdman and Clover Lee for fall 2008. The class focused on creating new approaches towards high-rise living in Hong Kong, which is generally driven by the economics of development.

The team describes niu shu:
“In the reality of a global consumerist society, William McDonough states that we need to ‘honor commerce as the engine of change.’ This project aspires to an aliveness that is not only literal in an environmental sense but also culturally and formally. The niu (new) shu (shoe) is a play on the pronunciation of the denoted Mandarin words for twisting and tree that carry a connoted English context. Hong Kong is comprised of a repetition of ubiquitous, shoebox-like forms that are only differentiated through their marketing. As the towers grow from the ground they translate the lost space of nature into an enhanced environment of consumerism. By using sustainability as a visible marketing tool to differentiate our design the complex becomes a living organism that prospers from a blurring of what is residential enrichment and commercial capital.”

According to Wilmore, “we worked within this economic scheme to create a unique living experience for residents that would be subsidized through a hydroponic farm within the towers. The food would then be processed and sold in the market at the base of the towers.”

Niu shu will be featured in several architecture and design journals including eVolo MAGAZINE. In addition, it will be included in an exhibition planned for the summer of 2009 in New York City. The exhibition will present the best projects of the 2006-2009 Skyscraper Competition.