The recovery of the world economy remains shaky but several cutting-edge architectural icons planned in better times are coming on stream this year and next.
City and Country takes a look at some of these global landmarks designed by big names like Foster and Partners and Steven Holl Architects.
An important theme in this compilation of futuristic buildings is green architecture with sustainable and energy-efficient features.
Taking the lead in the first week of this year was Dubai, a hub of wondrous, outlandish and audacious projects. Despite its debt crisis, Dubai unveiled two of the world’s tallest buildings within two days of each other.
The 72-storey Rose Rayhaan hotel opened on Jan 6, two days after the Burj Khalifa. The 200-storey Burj Dubai was renamed during the opening.
Taiwan’s Taipei 101 has now been pushed to second tallest building in the world, but its owners plan to transform it into the world’s tallest green building by next year.
Below are some of the upcoming landmarks that are certain to make an impact on the skyline. They may not aim to be the tallest or the biggest, but they can certainly hold their own. The Dubai International Financial Centre Lighthouse Tower in Dubai for example stands almost as tall as the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur at 400 metres while the Cybertecture Egg in Mumbai, India by sheer design alone looks iconic as it offers 355,200 sq ft of office space in an egg-shaped “planet”.
Read on for the facts and figures of these and other soon-to-be global landmarks.
1. DIFC Lighthouse Tower, Dubai
The simple, elegant shape of this rectilinear 400-metre office tower stands apart from some of the more audacious architecture in Dubai.
Standing on 1.85 million sq ft of land, the tower’s base measures 88m x 30m tapering to 46m x 10m at the top. The façade is made of light green glass and white aluminium solar reflecting panels.
Designed by global multidisciplinary consultancyAtkins, the building’s green features include a digital lighting system, grey water recycling, flow restrictors in taps and showers, low-flush toilets and waterless urinals, as well as 150 solar water collectors to meet its hot water requirements.
Dubbed the Lighthouse, it reflects client Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) aspiration for the tower to become the beacon of the business district.
The tower’s gross development value (GDV) has not been disclosed. It is scheduled for completion this year.
2. The Capital, Mumbai, India
Inspired by the image of a raindrop in a box, architectural firm James Law Cybertecture International aims to challenge the dominant paradigm of a “contextually orthodox business environment.”
This office building is reminiscent of the delayed Cybertecture Egg, also in Mumbai.
Designed to contain 801,000 sq ft of space in 19 storeys, The Capital is described by the architectural firm as defying the conventional “match box” building, with the negative space filled with the raindrop creating an elevated sky lobby providing both a grand entrance and beautiful views of the adjacent park and buildings.
Developed by Vijay Associates (Wadhwa Developers) at an undisclosed cost, it is slated for completion this year.
3. Zhejiang Fortune Finance Centre, Huangzhou, China
Architects John Portman & Associates identify this tower as the first large-scale development within Huangzhou’s first central business district (CBD).
The sloping peaks of the shorter 36-storey, 148-metre tower flow into the rising summit of the other second 52-storey tower (212m) to create a dynamic energy flow.
The firm says the entire project is positioned as an urban oasis, affording panoramic city views. it will house 1.4 million sq ft of office spqce.
This commercial and office project, developed at an undisclosed cost is slated to open this year.
4. Sliced Porosity Block, Chengdu, China
The architects behind this project on 105,000 sq ft of land describe it as a “hybrid of different functions like a giant chunk of metropolis,” an apt characterisation considering the shape of the project.
Client CapitaLand Development commissioned the design, which forms three “valleys”, inspired by a poem from Tang dynasty poet Du Fu (713 – 770).
Designed by architects from Steven Holl Architects and the China Academy of Building Research, the development has an odd, rocky angularity or “sun-sliced geometry”, as the architects put it.
This sculpted look will extend to the outside areas, and the shop facades will be randomly bathed in luminous shades from neon backlights.
Other green features include a geothermal heating and cooling system comprising 400 wells and rainwater harvesting.
This project, originally targeted for completion this year, will now be finished next year.
5. Shanghai Corporate Pavilion, Shanghai, China
Also known as the Dream Cube, architect Yu Ho Chang of Atelier Feichang Jianzhu envisioned it as a dream of a brighter future through sophisticated technologies.
Its flowing interior spread over 53,270 sq ft, and a dense, cubic volume of LED lights and a mist-making system illustrate this. Remarkably, the external façade is made of plastic recycled from CD jewel cases.
A deliberate departure from stiff, static walls, the building’s computer-programmed LED lighting transforms the external walls at the click of a mouse.
Other features include solar energy harvesting and rain water collection, says the architectural firm.
The pavilion, sponsored by the Shanghai Guosheng Group, is being built at an undisclosed sum as part of the city’s US$4.2 billion (about RM14.3 billion) makeover for the Shanghai Expo 2010 from May to October. It is scheduled to be completed in time for the opening of the exposition.
6.Cybertecture Egg,Mumbai, India
This chrome construction is envisioned as a planet of its own, with a smart ecosystem to create a more conducive working environment for its corporate citizens.
The office building owes its unique shape to its diagrid exo-skeleton, which allows for large column-free plates and high space flexibility. This cuts down about 15% on construction material, according to the architectural firm James Law Cybertecture International.
The egg houses about 355,200 sq ft of office space in 13 storeys as well as 400 parking bays in three basement levels.
True to its planet and ecology theme, the building will also have energy-efficient features and sustainable technology.
Originally slated for completion this year, Vijay Associates has pushed the project back because of the current financial uncertainty.
7. Sports Park Stozice,Ljubljana, Slovenia
A hybrid development, The Sports Park Stozice combines a football stadium with a multi-purpose sports hall and a massive retail centre spread over 182,000 sq metres.
Designed by Sadar Vuga Arhitekti Doo, the project appears subterranean, with only the football stadium roof bursting through the artificial fields.
Another remarkable feature is the enormous shell-shaped dome of the sports hall that opens into the fields, ending in canopies along the scalloped edges.
Both the sports hall and football stadium have external cladding that changes colour depending on the exterior conditions and viewing distance.
The project is to be completed this year, at a cost of 370 million (about RM1.7 billion).
8. Nanjing Museum of Art and Architecture,Nanjing, China
A white “tube” hovers above garden walls made of solid, black earth.
Designed by Steven Holl Architects and the Architectural Design Institute of Nanjing University, the 30,000 sq ft structure is supposed to explore the qualities of a Chinese painting.
The rising tube lends the illusion of shifting viewpoints, with the end revealing a view of Nanjing city in the distance.
Commissioned by Nanjing Foshou Lake Architecture and Art Developments Ltd at an undisclosed cost, it is slated for completion this year.
9. Solaris, Singapore
This plant-filled 15-storey research centre, built on a 83,250 sq ft site, will be devoted to a range of R&D activities in the info communications, media, science and engineering sectors.
Awash in lush greenery, Solaris is designed by Ken Yeang of TR Hamzah & Yeang Sdn Bhd, renowned for his pioneering work in bioclimatic design. The building embodies ecomimesis — the principle of copying nature onto buildings.
The research centre’s energy efficiency will be driven through its landscaped facade, rainwater harvesting, roof gardens to reduce solar gain, waste separation and recycling.
Other signature Yeang features include energy saving, naturally-lit and ventilated interior spaces.
The building is part of the futuristic Fusionopolis research and development cluster designed by Pritzker award-winning starchitect Zaha Hadid, whose fascination with sand dunes is retained in her organic style. Costing S$148 million (about RM357.4 million), the building was commissioned by JTC Corporation.
10. New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building, US
Foster and Partner, together with SMPC Architects and URS Corp, used sleek curvy lines to capture the “drama and mystery” of space flight to convey the excitement of suborbital travel.
As sinuous as the desert dunes, the world’s first private spaceport dedicated to commercial suborbital travel is not just cosmetically attuned to the environment; this building, is designed to comply with the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating.
The spaceport will make extensive use of sustainable and clean energy technology, as it aims to be the benchmark of similar undertakings in the future. Features include earth-tubes to pre-condition the air and reduce HVAC costs by 50% to 70%, solar thermal panels on the roof to provide hot water and an embedded in-floor loop system.
Commissioned by the Spaceport Authority in New Mexico, the roughly 110,100 sq ft structure costs almost US$225 million and is on track for completion this year.
Virgin Galactic intends to make the spaceport its headquarters, and its maiden flight is expected to blast off next year.