Either as singular outcroppings or as part of a bustling center, skyscrapers are neck-craning icons across major city centers in the world. A modern trope of extreme success and wealth, the skyscraper has become an architectural symbol for vibrant urban hubs and commercial powerhouses dominating cities like New York, Dubai, and Singapore.
While skyscrapers are omnipresent, 2018 introduced new approaches, technologies, and locations to the high-rise typology. From variations in materiality to form, designs for towers have started to address aspects beyond simply efficiency and height, proposing new ways for the repetitive form to bring unique qualities to city skylines. Below, a few examples of proposals and trends from 2018 that showcase the innovative ideas at work:
Self-proclaimed as a "new form of participatory urbanism", KPF's three-tower scheme in Shanghai is designed for commercial office spaces surrounding a central grand plaza that will eventually become a future museum and cultural hub. Vivid renders of the project highlight the dramatic shifting cantilever that interrupts the otherwise rigid system to reflect the presence of a new skyscraper in the city's skyline.
With an aim to become the world's first supertall wood structured skyscraper, the timber tower in Tokyo is a mixed-use building that emphasizes environmental and social sustainability. Due to Tokyo's frequent seismic activity, the tower is a hybrid system of wood and steel that plans to be built by the year 2041. It may be years in the making, but the proposal is laying the path for a new golden age of timber construction.
Winners from an exhaustive international competition, Woods Bagot and Peddle Thorp have been selected to design a new high-rise tower in Auckland, New Zealand. Drawing inspiration from the natural landscape, the building's design capitalizes on the prevalence of unique geology and fauna within the country.
Sergey Skuratov Architects' proposal for Moscow's tallest skyscraper is planning to reach a height of 404 meters (1,325-ft) featuring 109 floors. As a multifunctional residential complex, the sleek design of the building seems unexpected, however, hints towards a new spatial organization within its interior.
Inspired by the Chinese traditions of intricate jade carving, ZHA's proposal for Morpheus takes on a fluid form carved by a series of voids. As a hotel, this creates dramatic public spaces and grand living quarters in the interior, while being an iconic sculptural form on the outside. With innovative engineering, this project redefines the typology of the skyscraper.
Juxtaposing the horizontality of the new railway station, the Zhengzhou Twin Towers act as a threshold between the city center. The design focuses on integrating itself within the context by the nesting within the interconnected plaza, accentuating the urban design axes, and blending into the city skyline. The slightly taller height and unique facade make the skyscrapers distinctly visible from afar.
Standing at a height of 820-ft, Africa's tallest skyscraper is being built in Morocco and is expected to be completed by 2022. Designed by Spanish architects Rafael de la-Hoz Arquitectos and Moroccan firm CHB Cabinet Hakim Benjelloun, the building is aiming for LEED Gold and HQE ratings.
After a well-publicized competition that featured some of the world's most famous offices, UN Studio + Cox Architecture's Green Spine was named winner of the Melbourne tower competition. The project, which splits the typical monolithic form into a pair of twisted towers, stood out due to its multileveled public space at the ground levels. The design was selected amongst contemporary firms such as BIG, OMA, and MAD for Melbourne’s landmark Southbank Precinct overhaul.
Soon to become Europe's tallest skyscraper, the RMJM's Lakhta Center is finally nearing completion in its construction. The 462-meter-tall tower is part of a large complex in St Petersburg, alongside a stadium, seaport, and open park spaces. Though this icon is St Petersburg's first supertall building, it is also the world's northernmost skyscraper.