You have probably already heard about the tallest building in the world. But do you know which one is the greenest? Or in which city there is an invisible skyscraper? Check out our list of seven unique buildings in the world that will amaze you not only by their look!
“A world which sees art and engineering as divided is not seeing the world as a whole” said Sir Edmund Happold, a renowned structural engineer, whose portfolio contains Sydney Opera House amongst other great works. If we think about it, architecture and engineering brought us one of the best and most magnificent art pieces in the world. And that’s what we are here for today. We will be celebrating the most beautiful, unique and innovative buildings in the world that were brought to life since the beginning of the 21st century.
Each of these projects has something that makes it unique and newsworthy. It may be that it is “the something-est'' building in the world, it might be one of a kind, it may be the first project to ever achieve something or it can simply represent some groundbreaking vision. We excluded the most “obvious” buildings, like the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa because we wanted to put the spotlight on some less famous projects that more people should hear about.
Let’s embark on this marvellous journey of celebrating the great architecture, design and engineering of the last 20 years!
One Bryant Park (New York)
Home to the Headquarters of Bank of America, at the time of its completion in 2010, it was named the greenest skyscraper in the world. Although it might have lost its title in the course of time, it is still one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.
Owned by Durst Organisation and designed by Cook + Fox Architects, One Bryant Park was the first building of its height to earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum rating, which testifies to the highest ecological standard of the building.
The design contains such water-saving measures as greywater recycling, waterless urinals and rainwater harvesting systems, which help to save tons of drinking water, reducing its water consumption by almost 50%. And it doesn’t just stop at water conservation! The air system with 95% filtration is cleaner when leaving the building than it was when entering it! The building is also producing 70% of building annual energy requirements with an on-site 4.6-megawatt cogeneration plant, which is a clean and efficient power source.
The building received multiple awards and is a magnificent addition to the Manhattan skyline.
Check out more details of the project here!
Mjøstårnet (Brumunddal, Norway)
Completed in 2019, Mjøstårnet was verified as the world’s tallest timber building, measuring 85.4 meters. It was built using cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is an innovative material that allows the construction of high-rise buildings from sustainable wood.
The third-tallest building in Norway was designed by Voll Arkitekter for the AB Invest and Moelven Limtre was a subcontractor, who provided structural timber components. There are many environmental benefits of timber construction: the production of the material emits far less carbon dioxide than steel or concrete - and wood actually serves as a carbon sink, absorbing more than it produces.
The 18-storey tower now serves as an inspiration for other innovative and sustainability-oriented developers around the world and we hope to see more fantastic wooden projects!
Check it out in more detail here!
The Edge (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
The main office of Deloitte, The Edge, was named the smartest and the greenest building in the world. Sounds like it could be a bit exaggerated? You will probably change your mind once you hear more about it.
Once you download the custom Deloitte app, it is your key to this extraordinary workplace. It will recognise your car, direct you to a free desk (as there are no assigned desks) or other working areas depending on what’s best for your schedule. It will remember how you like your coffee and help you find a colleague you need to talk to. With the app, you can also adjust the lighting and temperature to your preferences.
The whole building is packed with 28,000 sensors and collects gigabytes of data, tracking everything from energy use to when a coffee needs to be refilled, making sure that the building is cutting as many costs and energy as possible.
How about that “greenest” part? At the time it was finished in 2015, the British rating agency BREEAM gave it the highest sustainability score ever awarded - 98.4%. Since then, there were few buildings that got a higher result, but The Edge is still in the strict lead. Just as an example, let me tell you that The Edge uses 70% less electricity than a typical office building and thanks to the solar panels, it produces more energy than it consumes!
Learn more about this fascinating building here!
Tower Infinity or Cheongna City Tower (Seoul, South Korea)
This one is a bit of a cheat as this skyscraper is still under construction, but who could resist the first invisible tower in the world?
You heard me right, the building situated outside Seoul that is planned to be completed in 2024, will be “invisible” thanks to the use of a LED facade system showing the image of what’s directly behind the building. When turned on, it will give the illusion of blending in with the sky. While it is designed to appear invisible for pedestrians and from a distance, special indicators will be used so that it will be visible for birds and planes, so that it will pose no risk.
According to the main visionaries behind the project - GDS Architects - the facade can also be used for broadcasting special events and for advertising purposes.
The tower will host the 3rd highest observation deck in the world, and the idea behind the project is to purposefully turn away from the “ego-race” of the tallest and best buildings in the world and instead, show the “power of absence and strength of nothingness”.
Learn more about this unique project here!
CopenHill/Amager Bakke (Copenhagen, Denmark)
CopenHill is a waste-to-power plant created by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which not only can transform tons of waste into clean energy for thousands of households every year, but it is also a ski slope!
The project was finished in 2017 and is a big step on the path of Copenhagen becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city (which they intend to achieve by 2025!). It is also a completely new approach to the way we think about this type of facility. The goal was to change a place you usually think of as nothing pleasant and sort of a “restricted area” into the city’s landmark and a place where people want to come for outdoor activities! Aside from the dry ski slope, CopenHill offers a hiking path, a botanical park, a bar, a fitness area and the highest climbing wall in the world. The cherry on the cake is an ecology educational centre.
CopenHill is the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world and we cannot underline how awesome the whole project is! If the world must go in any particular direction, please let it be this one as it is the power of human invention and skills at its finest!
Check out this cool video about CopenHill here!
Bosco Verticale (Milan, Italy)
Now, the iconic Bosco Verticale (which means “vertical forest”) was completed in 2014 and has since then become a mental image for green building for many people around the world. Designed by Stefano Boeri Architects, it’s pioneering in incorporating a vertical forest into such a tall building. It consists of two buildings that are 80 and 112 meters high, which host 800 trees, becoming an urban oasis for birds and other wildlife.
The number of plants on the balconies of the towers creates a green facade, surrounding the building like a shell that brings numerous benefits. It absorbs the pollutants coming from the city while also producing oxygen, which improves air quality. It also reduces the energy consumption of the building as it serves as insulation against temperature and ensures shading, which means it’s cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
What’s also revolutionary about the building is the whole other approach that is not solely focused on humans but rather on the relationship between other living species and us. With a ratio of 2 trees and 48 small plants per occupant, the building was named the “tower for trees, occupied by humans”.
Read more about Bosco Verticale!
Al Bahar Tower (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
Abu Dhabi can endure some extreme weather conditions that bring unusual challenges for architects. Al Bahar Towers, designed by Aedas Architects, introduced a groundbreaking approach by incorporating a responsive facade.
The facade comes from the traditional islamic lattice shading called “mashrabiya”. The computer-controlled panels move, open and close in response to sun exposure, guaranteeing an optimal amount of diffused light inside the building.
The solar curtain is placed on the independent frame, placed two metres outside the building exterior. It is estimated that it reduces solar gain by 50% and significantly lowers the building’s need for air conditioning, which saves a lot of energy and is healthier for the environment. The screen also allowed for the use of more naturally tinted glass for the building, which lets more natural light inside and reduces the need for artificial lighting.
Project sustainability and a sensitive cultural approach was given a 2012 Tall Building Innovation Award and will hopefully be an inspiration for many projects to come.
Learn more about this project!
How do you like our list? Have you ever heard about these buildings? Maybe we missed something? Let us know! Contact us here.
Construction, engineering and architecture are some of the most exciting areas of human invention and creative thinking. There is no doubt the upcoming decade will bring us some new exciting projects and groundbreaking designs, and we cannot wait to see them!
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