2018 has been a strong year for architecture worldwide and our coverage has been correspondingly varied. From a starchitect-designed hotel with holes in it, to a James Bond-themed museum high up in the mountains, here's our pick of the best buildings of the year.
We won't lie to you. Selecting 2018's top buildings was not an easy task, but we've managed to choose 10 of the very best – listed below in no particular order. More info and photos for each of them can be found in the gallery.
Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum's Children Village was recently named the 2018 International Prize winner by RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects). It serves as a home away from home to over 500 schoolchildren in Brazil.
The 25,000 sq m (270,000 sq ft) boarding school is split into two matching buildings, one for boys and another for girls. Residences are arranged around central courtyards at ground level and upper areas host communal spaces. Despite the tropical climate in that part of the world, Children Village stays cool without air-conditioning thanks to its focus on passive ventilation and shading.
Described by architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners as one of the most complex timber structures in the world, the Macallan New Distillery and Visitor Experience is a remarkable building topped by a large undulating green roof that helps it blend in with the Scottish landscape.
The distillery's design is inspired by ancient Scottish earthworks and the building is part-buried into a slope. Its eye-catching roof consists of 1,800 timber beams and 380,000 individual components, and is enclosed by a glazed facade.
Calgary Central Library
Snøhetta worked with local firm Dialog to design a new library for Calgary, Canada. The Calgary Central Library is situated in a very challenging site that has a train running through it.
The library's exterior consists of an energy-efficient glazed facade made up of a hexagonal pattern of glass and aluminum that looks a little like snowflakes. Inside, visitors enter through a large wood archway inspired by Chinook cloud arch formations into a stunning wooden atrium topped by a decorative oculus. The team used considerable soundproofing to ensure that people studying in the upper reading rooms would not be disturbed by the trains passing below.
The James Bond-themed 007 Elements museum is the work of Obermoser Arch-Omo, Optimist's Tino Schaedler and Art Director Neal Callow. It is situated at 3,040 m (9,973 ft) on the summit of the Gaislachkogl Mountain in Austria and represents a significant engineering achievement for architects Obermoser Arch-Omo, who had to carry out the project in difficult conditions, including unexpected early snowfall.
The concrete museum hosts interior spaces inspired by the long-running spy movies. Interestingly, the firm chose to not install any heating in the museum, despite the extreme environment. This was done both so that visitors experienced the mountainous conditions in full, and to ensure that no heat is transferred to the permafrost on the site.
Coal Drops Yard
High-profile designer Thomas Heatherwick's firm Heatherwick Studio did a masterful job mixing old and new while turning two dilapidated Victorian-era coal storage buildings in London into a large new shopping center crowned by a stunning roof.
Coal Drops Yard sees the original buildings extended and renovated, as well as two viaducts on the site. The curved roof sections are covered in 80,000 slate tiles drawn from the same slate quarry in North Wales used when constructing the original buildings over 150 years ago.
Bloomberg HQ London
Recently named Britain's best new building by RIBA, Foster + Partners' Bloomberg Headquarters takes up an entire block in the City of London. It is widely reported to have cost £1 billion (US$1.3 billion).
It consists of two large buildings joined by a bridge and situated either side of a new public arcade that re-establishes an ancient Roman road. They're finished in 9,600 tonnes (10,752 US tons) of sandstone and enlivened by decorative bronze window ventilation fins. A significant amount of sustainable technology went into the project too, most notably rainwater capture, greywater recycling, natural lighting, and smart ventilation systems.
Shenzhen Energy Mansion
Denmark's BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) offers an interesting twist on skyscraper design with its Shenzhen Energy Mansion. The project consists of two towers rising to 120 m (393 ft)-tall and 220 m (721 ft), respectively, that are joined by a podium.
The towers' facades mix glazing and an aluminum skin that's carefully patterned to reduce the amount of daylight that permeates within. Additionally, eye-catching folds in the exterior help mitigate the sun's glare and solar heat gain. It has been awarded LEED Gold (a green building standard) for its efficiency, and other notable features include rainwater collection, greywater recycling, and green roofs.
The Mactan Cebu International Terminal 2
International airports are often rather dull places to spend some time but the Philippines' Mactan Cebu International Terminal 2 is one notable exception.
The airport is primarily constructed from glulam (glue-laminated timber) and has a striking overall shape inspired by rolling ocean waves. Inside, the arched skeleton of the structure has been left exposed and the floor is finished in decorative terrazzo inlaid with iridescent mother-of-pearl. A large team realized this project, including Kenneth Cobonpue, interior designer Budji Layug, architect Royal Pineda, and Hong Kong-based Integrated Design Associates.
Eysturkommuna Town Hall
Designed by Henning Larsen Architects, the Eysturkommuna Town Hall in the Faroe Islands serves as both town hall for the village of Norðragøta, and a bridge for locals to cross a river.
The 700 sq m (7,500 sq ft) building is covered by a green roof and its interior centers around a glass floor opening with views of the water running beneath. A circular table ensures no one person sits at the end so that all are deemed equal, a layout inspired by the kivas, the ceremonial chambers of the Pueblo Native Americans.
Morpheus Hotel, by Zaha Hadid Architects, is built atop the foundations of a rectangular condo that was never completed, it rises to a height of 160 m (524 ft) and, structurally, takes the form of two towers connected at multiple points.
Its exterior features an impressive exoskeleton comprising 2,500 steelwork connections and 1,200 junctions, all clad in aluminum. The hotel's 42 m (137 ft)-tall atrium is filled with complex geometric shapes and a dozen glass elevators move people around. The 147,860 sq m (1,591,550 sq ft) building includes 770 guest rooms, suites and sky villas, and is topped by a rooftop pool.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more