CTBUH 2016 International Student Tall Building Design Competition

Submission: July 25, 2016
Registration: July 18, 2016
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: 1st Prize: US$6,000, 2nd Prize: US$5,000, 3rd Prize: US$4,000, 4th Prize: US$3,000, 5th Prize: US$3,000
Type: Architecture Students 


The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) is pleased to announce its 5th International Student Tall Building Design Competition. The goal of the competition is to shed new light on the meaning and value of tall buildings in modern society.

As worldwide populations continue to urbanize and grow, creating megacities, the role of the tall building in the twenty-
first century has moved beyond simply addressing spatial and economic efficiencies. The permanence of these structures necessitates careful forethought into how they will interface with the surrounding urban context, the natural environment, their inhabitants, and the world as a whole. Although they are statically embedded in our cities, skyscrapers must employ a dynamic spatial and functional dialogue, allowing them to remain active and relevant for not just decades, but centuries.

The interplay with local culture is critical, as it not only adheres a project appropriately within a city, but communicates the values and imperatives of a place to a global audience. This communication can be meaningfully imparted in many ways – from building form, design inspiration, and motifs; to employed materials, technologies, and urban arrangement. Given the rise of international participation in the tall building world, we find ourselves at defining moment – where small decisions made today on a local scale can enable sweeping change worldwide.

Participants are free to site their projects anywhere in the world. But this is not to undervalue the importance of site – participants should carefully consider their site (which must be a “real” site, in an existing urban location) as the site context should
inherently have significant influence over the project’s design. Participants are also free to determine the size, height, function, accommodation and responsibilities of the building. The intention is these freedoms on site and program will maximize the diversity and creativity of the responses. It is also intended to allow students from specific high-rise educational studies around the world during the 2015–16 academic year to submit their projects for consideration.

Participants should engage with the exploration and resolution of the synergistic relationship of placing a tall building in a unique existing urban setting; how that tall building can be inspired by the cultural, physical, and environmental aspects of its site; and how the program of the building is influenced by the micro and macro site/urban conditions; and how the building responds
to global issues. Proposals should show evidence of a clear understanding of how considerations of structure, environment, servicing, etc. are as vital to the success of a tall building as the form, materials, aesthetics, etc.

Participants need to also consider the CTBUH Criteria for defining tall buildings, such that “at least 50% of its height is occupied by usable floor area,” (i.e., proposals should be functional “buildings” not simply observation, communication, or other towers).


  • The competition is open to all students who are registered at a University level. For recently graduated students: you must have been a registered student at least during the Fall 2015 term, i.e., August–December 2015.

  • The official language of the competition is English.
  • Participation in this competition is anonymous. You will be issued a registration number which will serve as the only meansof identification during the entire judging process.
  • Contact between participants and members of the jury is prohibited.
  • Five “Finalists” will be selected to present their schemes at the CTBUH 2016 Conference. Participation in the Conference
    and presentation to the jury are required as a condition of being awarded “Finalist” status and receiving the award (a travel stipend is provided for one representative per team, see below). Finalist teams that do not attend will be ineligible for prizes.
  • Copyright and intellectual rights of the submissions remain with the original authors. Successful participants in the CTBUH Student Design Competition agree to allow the CTBUH to display their work in printed format at the CTBUH 2016 Conference Oct. 17th-21st; display images and a text description of their work on the CTBUH website at http://academic. ctbuh.org; and use an image of their work in promotional material for future CTBUH competitions.


    • First Place: US$6,000
      US$3,000 cash + stipend to attend CTBUH 2016 Conference (up to US$3,000 value*)
    • Second Place: US$5,000
      US$2,000 cash + stipend to attend CTBUH 2016 Conference (up to US$3,000 value*)
    • Third Place: US$4,000 
      US$1,000 cash + stipend to attend CTBUH 2016 Conference (up to US$3,000 value*)
    • Fourth Place: US$3,000
      Stipend to attend CTBUH 2016 Conference (up to US$3,000 value*)
    • Fifth Place: US$3,000
      Stipend to attend CTBUH 2016 Conference (up to US$3,000 value*)
  • Honorable Mentions
    A select number of entries will be recognized as Honorable Mentions and awarded with a certificate separate to the Conference.
  • Exhibition: A poster exhibition of the five “Finalists” and up to 22 selected “Semi-finalist” entries will be exhibited during the CTBUH 2016 Conference.

*A stipend will be provided to send one representative from each of the five “Finalist” teams to the CTBUH 2016 Conference to present their project to the jury in order to determine the 1st through 5th place awards. The stipend includes complimentary Conference registration (value US$1,000) + travel/accommodation costs (up to US$2,000). Please note that the registration stipend is for the Shenzhen portion of the conference ONLY. Finalists may register for the remainder of the conference in Guangzhou and Hong Kong with any remaining funds in their travel stipend or their own funding.


  • Wednesday, March 30th – Competition formally launched
  • Monday, July 18th – Registration deadline*
  • Monday, July 25th – Submission deadline*
  • Monday, August 8th – Short-listed “Semi-finalists” announced
  • Thursday, August 18th – Top-five “Finalists” announced
  • Monday–Friday, October 17th–21st – CTBUH 2016 Conference, Top-five Finalists will present to the jury in Shenzhen. Winners will be announced during the conference.


  • All university students are invited to participate in the design competition. Multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.
  • Teams can be made up of one individual, up to a maximum of 5 individuals.
  • Only one single project can be submitted by any one individual/team.
  • Individuals cannot participate in more than one team.
  • Participants must register online by July 18, 2016.
  • All team members must submit proof of student status when they register. A scanned copy of a student ID or other form of verification for each member of the team must be uploaded to the registration site in order to successfully complete the registration.
  • After your registration and student status has been approved, the CTBUH will issue you a unique registration number which will be necessary for the final submission.
  • There are no registration fees. Participation in the CTBUH Competition is free.


  • Submissions will be digital only, no hard copies will be required or accepted. Participants must submit their project no later than July 25, 2016. Access to upload your submission will be provided to you by email after you have successfully completed the registration process.

Project submissions are limited to the following two files (both files are required):

  • One A1 board
    • This primarily visual presentation of your project should include the following: the name/title of your project, the project concept, diagrams, plans, sections, and perspectives. However, it is up to each individual team to determine what information is needed to communicate their project most effectively to the judges.
    • The board should be ISO A1 (841mm x 594mm) in size and oriented to the LANDSCAPE(i.e., horizontal) format.
    • The board must be saved as a PDF file of high visual resolution, however the file size should not exceed 20meg.
    • Entry must include your unique registration number in the upper right corner of the board. There should NOT be any personal names, affiliations, or any other forms of identification on the board.
    • The file name must include your three-digit registration number and conform to the following naming convention: CTBUH2016_XXX.pdf
  • One DOC file written description (A4 one-page)
    • This one-page written description is your opportunity to further describe your project’s concept, design, motivations, etc.
    • Please include the name/title of your project at the top of the document.
    • Text should be a maximum of 500 words, and is not to exceed one page.
    • There should NOT be any personal names, affiliations or any other forms of identification in the text.
    • The file name must include your three-digit registration number and conform to the following naming convention: CTBUH2016_XXX_Description.doc
  • Only these two files (one .pdf and one .doc) will be accepted. No additional files will be accepted. Supplemental files (.ppt, .mov, etc.) or files that do not conform to the above listed specifications will be discarded and not reviewed by the jury.
  • The top five projects selected as “Finalists” will elect one team member to present the project during the CTBUH 2016 Conference. This will include a 10 minute oral presentation (supported by a powerpoint presentation), followed by a 10 minute Question and Answer session with the jury. Attendance at the Conference presentation is mandatory. “Finalist” teams that fail to send representation to the Conference will be ineligible for the prizes.

Go to the competition’s website

Date: April 3, 2016