The first and only hotel in the world to have been designed inside and out by the late, great Zaha Hadid, who unveiled a vision for the building way back in 2007, the Opus building in Dubai looks halfway between an optical illusion and a painting by Picasso. A giant glass cube with an amorphous hole through its enter , the hotel is actually a pair of towers, connected at top and bottom to create the front-facing facade.
A stone’s throw from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai’s bustling business district, at night the central void lights up to create a strange, warped effect, mirrored by the curved ceilings and marble surfaces inside.
A residential tower block for the eco-conscious era, the Eden Tower in Singapore seeks to solve the disconnection between high-rise living and the tree-lined streets below. More than 100 meters tall, each luxury apartment within it comes with an overhanging, plant-filled balcony, which merge together to create a cascading wall of green.
Located in the prestigious District 10, the tower deliberately eschews the glass-and-steel template used by most modern skyscrapers in favor of a more organic, distinctive aesthetic. Founding father Lee Kuan Yew famously saw Singapore as a “garden city”, and this leafy living space is taking his wishes literally.
111 West 57th
New York City
Almost certainly the world’s skinniest super-tall skyscraper, 111 West 57th (also called the Steinway Tower) has a minuscule width-to-height ratio of around one to 24, and appears so profoundly precarious that just looking at it gives us mild anxiety.
Steepling 435 meters into the sky, the building became the third tallest in New York on completion earlier this year, and only gets thinner as it goes up. The skyscraper is architecturally as stable as any, but we’re still faintly worried about leaning on it, or entering during high wind.
Another skyscraper that seems to defy at least a few laws of physics, Vancouver House was designed by Danish maestro Bjarke Ingels, who also recently hit headlines for transforming a power plant into a ski slope in the center of Copenhagen.
Weird in every direction, the building twists from a triangular base into a rectangular top, and makes the most of its small ground site by expanding outwards as it moves upwards, resulting in a gravity-defying overhang. The tessellating, Bauhaus-esque facade shimmers in the afternoon sun, and affords every apartment an inset balcony.
nhow Amsterdam Rai
Three massive, triangular glass boxes stacked at different angles on top of one another, the nhow Amsterdam Rai became the largest hotel in the Netherlands when its 650 rooms opened for business this year. It’s a tough year to open a hotel, but in times of plenty, the self-styled “most Instagrammable hotel in Europe” has flare to spare.
Beijing has had tall skyscrapers, and it’s had misshapen skyscrapers, but we’re pretty sure it’s never had a see-through skyscraper before. On stepping through the doors of the Leeza SOHO, visitors are greeted with a giant, glass-walled atrium that stretches 207 meters and 45 stories up through the building’s center, with panoramic views of the capital on both sides.
Another Zaha Hadid masterpiece, the tower is internally divided into two halves, which corkscrew around one another as they climb, allowing light to permeate the structure at dawn and dusk. The atrium doesn’t quite reach the tower’s top, but at 194 meters, it’s still the tallest atrium in the world.
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