Head in the clouds: Five spectacular skyscrapers
Skyscrapers are the poster child of the modern metropolis: They provide a living and working environment for millions of people, and constantly push the boundaries of design, architecture and technology. In this article, we take a closer look at five spectacular architectural projects: Starting in Milan and taking in St. Petersburg, Beirut and Bangkok before ending in Beijing.
Skyscraper in Milan: The Twisting Tower by Zaha Hadid
Milan is home to a skyscraper that is mind-blowing in its aesthetic and architectural design. The Twisting Tower was designed by queen of curves Zaha Hadid, the first female architect to ever win the coveted Pritzker Prize.
The signature style of the renowned architect is evident in the undulating, twisted shape of the skyscraper. The finish of the façade enhances the twisting effect of the building and boosts its energy efficiency, too. The building has been awarded a LEED platinum sustainability certificate. Around 3000 employees of insurance company Generali moved into the tower’s 44 floors of office accommodation – which extend 170 metres into the sky – in July 2018. Thanks to its unusual shape, the Generali Tower has also earned itself a unique nickname among the locals: Milan residents like to call it “Lo Storto”, which translates as “the twisted one”. It is also referred to as “Torre Hadid”, in honour of the architect behind the building, who has since passed away. The Iraqi architect’s design is a lasting legacy on Milan’s skyline.
A Russian record-breaker: The Lakhta Center
The Lakhta Center in the Russian city of St. Petersburg opened in January 2018. At a height of 462 metres, the needle-sharp skyscraper is the tallest in Europe, rising high on the skyline in the district of Lakhta. The Lakhta Center was the brainchild of Moscow-based architecture firm Gorprojekt, and the building is now used as the head offices for the natural gas exploration company Gazprom Group. The credentials of the headquarters are as impressive as those of its influential occupants:
With a pour volume of over 19,000 cubic metres, the building’s concrete foundations made it into the Guinness Book of Records. The total area of the external and internal glazing is an impressive 100,000 square metres – roughly equivalent to 14 football fields. The needle-like shape of the Lakhta Center and its elaborate glass façade were designed to withstand storms and wind even in the depths of the Russian winter. The building has a viewing platform for visitors at 370 metres. This imposing skyscraper was also awarded an LEED certificate and satisfies international sustainability criteria.
Beirut Terraces: Next-level living
Beirut is home to an apartment block designed by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron. In an upmarket area of the Lebanese capital, the façade of this impressive skyscraper is lined with offset balconies. The building is designed around five different modular base plates, creating an extraordinary mix of overhanging projections and usable external space.
The offset design of the green outdoor spaces not only ensures that residents can enjoy breathtaking, unobstructed views of the sea, but also guarantees their privacy.
With large floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors, the interior of the building fuses seamlessly with the outside. At 116 metres tall, the Beirut Terraces may not be the tallest designer skyscraper out there – but the quality of life in these 132 luxury apartments is virtually unrivalled.
City highlight: Bangkok’s Pixel Tower
At 313 metres, Bangkok’s MahaNakhon skyscraper – which opened in August 2016 – is the city’s tallest tower. German architect Ole Scheeren came up with the spectacular design, which features unusual cube-shaped, offset elements in the façade, which serve as balconies and patios for some of the apartments.
The architects referred to these elements as “pixels”. They not only give the building its unique look, but also give residents incredible panoramic views of the city. Residents without a balcony aren’t left out: Their rooms have large balcony windows, which open up their living space to seamlessly transition into the outdoors. Alongside the apartments, the building also houses a hotel and was one of the five finalists in the 2018 International High-Rise Awards.
Harmonious curves in Beijing: Chaoyang Park Plaza
The Chaoyang Park Plaza is a skyscraper that is actually comprised of two towers, located in the Chaoyang district of Beijing. The designs for the project were created by MAD architects.
The towers are 120 metres and 108 metres tall, and are joined by a curved connecting structure. According to the architects, the undulating shapes and smooth, curved surfaces were inspired by the Chinese landscape. This project also made it to the finals of the International High-Rise Awards in 2018. The jury commented that the building was “unconventional and harmonious in equal measure”.
These five spectacular and innovative skyscrapers are icons of modern architecture and society.
But who knows when another skyscraper will come along to knock them off the top spot? The sky is the limit.
Which skyscraper is your favourite? Can you imagine living or working in one of these fantastic buildings? Let us know in the comments!