Designing Up a Storm

September 8, 2021

Architecture often draws inspiration from nature. For one architecture student, Lukas Somodi, the visual appeal and wide range of feelings that a storm creates – such as stress, worry, and anxiety, but also excitement, power, curiosity, and inspiration – acted as the muse for his latest design project using Allplan 3D architecture design software. The question he asked was, how could these vastly different atmospheres be combined into an architectural project that evoked this sense of awe, yet still provided sustainable spaces for people to live and work in?


The Storm-Inspired Office Tower

The Tensegrity Tower and Thunderstorm Pavilion were the result of trying to resolve this complex question. Together, they create a sustainable, storm-inspired concept of a post-COVID workplace that integrates a Hyperloop high-speed mass transit system at its base.

The design of the tower draws on the spinning movement of cyclones, a weather event that is becoming increasingly common due to climate change. It uses a tensegrity structure, where a three-dimensional structure is made up of members under continuous tension and those under intermittent compression. This structure helped capture the jagged streaks of lightning fractals in the air around a cyclone. However, it also acts as shading for the interior of the tower, to reduce the energy required for keeping the internal environment cool.


The tower is designed around a concrete core, with a stable base made from a combination of concrete and steel. Once completed, the tower will have a swirling steel spiral installed around the core, which will support the floors, glass façade, and tensegrity. The upper floors are designed using timber for its light weight. A glass façade then envelops the building, with the tensegrity being installed last to create the lightning effect around the tower.

Inside the tower are office spaces, which are designed to support the health and wellbeing of the occupants through natural ventilation. In addition, there are a wide range of amenities included in the building to encourage both indoor and outdoor activities and support small local businesses.


Integrating Sustainable Infrastructure

The Hyperloop will connect the occupants of the tower with the city in a sustainable way. The system is powered by electricity and magnetism, and therefore does not create any carbon emissions. The tower acts as a stop along the transit route, thereby supporting a car-less city concept and providing an answer as to how urban infrastructure can be transformed for sustainable outcomes.



Somodi’s design is an inspired fusion of both the concern that climate change creates and the incredible forces of nature that result from it. Designs like Tensegrity Tower demonstrate just how integral sustainable design must be to address these issues.