In the year 2016, The World Architecture Festival announced the shortlisted participants for their 2016 awards that featured about 343 projects from 58 countries across 32 diverse categories. The World Architecture Festival is the world’s largest and leading architectural awards platform(since 2008) and ranges from Best Completed Mixed-Use Structures to Best Proposed Civic Buildings from around the globe. The annual event features ground-breaking international projects, whose past winners include esteemed firms such as Bjarke Ingels Group, Snohetta, and Zaha Hadid Architects. During the following awards in the year 2016, Desitecture-A firm based in London, UK submitted their entry of Osteon Cumulus Vertical City, A Kilometre High City under the classification of the experimental-future projects. 

About The Firm DESITECTURE, London, UK:

Desitecture is a research-based design studio that also leads its practice in interiors and several urban design clusters. Established by Layton Reid in the year 2005 – the firm works with a mission to “make the everyday extraordinary.”  Their designs explore various forms and effects of the Socio-Political, Economic, and Ephemeral factors on our urban environments. The firm has won substantial awards and media attention internationally, for their aim to reevaluate the way we perceive the modern city of today, through radical research. Christopher Richard Hall from the design team quotes, “ Desitecture is here to ask real questions beyond conventions.”

Not only that, but the interests of the team of Desitecture leans towards articulating and manifesting architecture in all its forms ( interiors, exteriors, urban master plans, etc.)  with a positive conviction. The research-based organisation is known to procure services from the interstitial to residential, temporary and large scale, exhibitions, and events. They also participate in competitions which range from private spaces, small scale productions to masterplan proposals for urban regeneration. 

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A view of the Osteon Cumulus in context to the city of Wuxi, China. ©

With the same steadiness in their work, the studio led to design Osteon Cumulus Vertical City, A Kilometre High City for the WAF awards in 2016. The following project, along with many others, received recognition in several magazines such as the Evolo Skyscraper 3, Future Archquitecturas-51/52, MIPIM Architecture Tomorrow, 2016, etc. 

The Idea behind Osteon Cumulus Vertical City – A Kilometre High Metropolitan Space: 

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The banyan tree concept for the Kilometre High City ©

Named as “The Smart City of Future” by renowned architects during the World Architecture Festival awards, Osteon Cumulus persuades the cities and urban environment of today towards the notion of maximising the space above(at a height) with a reduction in footprint below. The building proposal consists of a structure that lightly (or hardly) touches the earth’s surface, and at the same time provides nonpareil amenities to the inhabitants. The concept to maximise the potential of a minor footprint arouses from a banyan tree. 

The banyan tree structure deposits additional downward branches to stabilise its imposed load in a manner which imparts the least load towards the lower end. With the following theory and a unique approach, the framework of the city at times appears as a Cumulonimbus cloud (a dense, towering vertical cloud) formation, and at others as a floating forest. 

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The banyan tree concept, weighing less towards the lower end of the structure ©

The Substantial Role of the SITE, and the PHILOSOPHY behind the formation of a VERTICAL COMMUNITY: 

The design proposal for Osteon Cumulus Vertical City commenced in a prototype site of Wuxi City in southern Jiangsu Province of eastern China. The chosen city for the site, Wuxi, fulfills multiple relevant criteria for designing. Lying in the austral delta of the Yangtze River and on Lake Tai, the city serves as a prominent historical and cultural city in China, thriving as an economic centre since times immemorial. Not only that, but since the last few decades, the metropolitan has emerged as a major producer of electrical motors, software, and solar technologies. Its evolution in the various sectors, especially – technological divisions improves the basis of the design proposal Desitecture provided.

According to the design team, the selected location allows the research on various concerns and intricacies related to the displacement and cultural identity in an urban setting (concerning the context). Not only that, but the locale also permits to characterise the issues of community and diversity as defined by the architectural form of Wuxi, China. With the use of local, off-grid networks owned by the occupants, the smart city leverages both active and passive divisions of technologies in its construction. 

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The 210 floored society, in context to the city of Wuxi, China. ©

The proposition of this skyscraper consists of a 210 floored society that presents itself as a stacked series of evolving context. The stacked floors shall comprise of work, retail, hospitality, leisure, and residential accommodation which in turn form an aerial settlement, where the services float horizontally providing space for driving cars, bicycles, pedestrian routes. The team designed the skyscraper in such a manner wherein, the physical and material qualities of the structure can manifest themselves in a porous, coral-like pattern. The form then can appear either as cut-slices juxtaposed to create a conventional urban grain, or the fragments appear stacked vertically, determined by the changing internal and external environment as they grow.

The Structural System and Form: 

A diagrid structural system is employed, repurposed to a waffle format, which interweaves the other structural elements, together. The use of Diagrid Structures has become prominent for the design of high rise buildings due to its several inherent properties and architectural advantages. Diagrid systems are external structural systems, where all the columns on the perimeter are eradicated and replaced with inclined columns on the building facades. The system is useful to transfer both gravity and lateral loading, with the additional benefit of resisting shear stress and overturning movement with the axial action of the diagonals. Diagrid systems are nothing but the progression of braced tube structures and are more efficient because the structural system helps avoid interior and corner columns, providing flexibility in the floor plans. 

As mentioned above, the waffle format helps to entwine structural elements to form a self-supporting and a remarkably robust and flexible structure. The materials used to construct the framework of the building are porous and lightweight, making them analogous at the core. The team envisaged Osteon Cumulus to have a structural component that makes use of rapid ideal and exemplary techniques, simultaneously integrating required service technologies like walkways and lift cores. 

Other areas, like the aerial parks and landscaping, enhance the sense of localism to the inhabitants of the tower. These voids allow the penetration of light deep into the structural core, wherein the surface acts as a sun scooping element, simultaneously helping the inner areas of the tower illuminate. 

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The Diagrid System. ©
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The voids that help intake light ©

Methods used to Integrate Sustainability with the help of Vertical Farming, along with re-use of energy: 

The building is said to consist of blade-like-forms, towards the lower ends of the houses, acting as microturbines, combined with solar surfaces in the same porous blade-like-structures. Both these elements stimulate conveniences for the residents, wherein the energy generated by the structure (porous, blade-like) is stored and simultaneously exchanged through the solar surface in the building. Osteon Cumulus aims at the goal of working in a self-sustainable method, through the use of existing active and passive technologies, but with a new approach. For the same, the design team introduced Vertical Farms on the premises. 

Vertical Farms are present within the leisure zoned towers, with additional atria’s created to house a range of agricultural pursuits. The proposal of vertical farms when juxtaposed with a range of personal and communal gardens, make the goal of self-sustainability achievable. 

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View of the services and structural details. ©

Overall, with the design of Osteon Cumulus, Desitecture design and research team took the idea of building with a small footprint below with utilising maximum space above to a whole new level. The use of various technologies (existing and otherwise) in their unique methods is what makes the project revolutionary and innovative. 


  1. Official site of Desitecture.

  1. A virtual tour of the Future-Experimental Project.


Ansha Kohli is whimsical andenigmatic when it comes to her life. Wanting to pursue a career in architecture journalism after completing her graduation, she is on the road to seek something new and exciting, and subsequently enthusiastic to share as well as understand different philosophies associated with art and architecture.

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