Architecture

The best buildings of 2020

The best buildings of 2020
Zaha Hadid Architects' Opus, in Dubai, is one of the 10 stunning projects to make our pick of the best buildings of the year
Zaha Hadid Architects' Opus, in Dubai, is one of the 10 stunning projects to make our pick of the best buildings of the year
View 41 Images
Zaha Hadid Architects' Opus, in Dubai, is one of the 10 stunning projects to make our pick of the best buildings of the year
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Zaha Hadid Architects' Opus, in Dubai, is one of the 10 stunning projects to make our pick of the best buildings of the year
The Opus, by Zaha Hadid Architects, consists of two towers joined together by an atrium and skybridge
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The Opus, by Zaha Hadid Architects, consists of two towers joined together by an atrium and skybridge
Opus' large atrium links both tower structures, so that the interior feels like one large cohesive space, rather than two joined buildings
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Opus' large atrium links both tower structures, so that the interior feels like one large cohesive space, rather than two joined buildings
Inside one of the Opus' hotel rooms
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The Opus includes the ME Dubai luxury hotel by Melia Hotels, which has 74 rooms, 19 suites, a large gym, restaurants and bars
The central void that defines the Opus is eight stories tall
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The central void that defines the Opus is eight stories tall
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, by BIG, is defined by an attractive spiraling design and is topped by a green roof that helps it take its place well amid the rolling Swiss landscape
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Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, by BIG, is defined by an attractive spiraling design and is topped by a green roof that helps it take its place well amid the rolling Swiss landscape
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet's green roof is supported by its curved glazing – that is, there are no structural supports or beams inside
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Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet's green roof is supported by its curved glazing – that is, there are no structural supports or beams inside
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet's watchmakers can spend up to eight months working on a single timepiece and visitors to the museum can observe some of them going about their painstaking work
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Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet's watchmakers can spend up to eight months working on a single timepiece and visitors to the museum can observe some of them going about their painstaking work
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is located near BIG's sloping Audemars Piguet Hôtel des Horlogers, which is still under construction and visible in the left of the photo
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Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is located near BIG's sloping Audemars Piguet Hôtel des Horlogers, which is still under construction and visible in the left of the photo
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet's interior includes an exhibition with 300 high-quality timepieces
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Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet's interior includes an exhibition with 300 high-quality timepieces
During the design process for Eden, Heatherwick Studio drew inspiration from Singapore's natural landscape
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During the design process for Eden, Heatherwick Studio drew inspiration from Singapore's natural landscape
"Concrete also contributes to the building's environmental strategy, as its mass blocks warm air to aid natural cooling," explains Heatherwick Studio regarding Eden's design
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"Concrete also contributes to the building's environmental strategy, as its mass blocks warm air to aid natural cooling," explains Heatherwick Studio regarding Eden's design
Eden includes extensive grounds and shaded spaces for residents to meet and relax
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Eden includes extensive grounds and shaded spaces for residents to meet and relax
Eden's bathrooms feature a sink, vanity unit and bath that were custom-designed for the project by Heatherwick Studio
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Eden's bathrooms feature a sink, vanity unit and bath that were custom-designed for the project by Heatherwick Studio
Throughout Eden's interior, natural imperfections have been retained, such as natural patterns in the limestone and saw marks left visible in the handmade wooden flooring
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Throughout Eden's interior, natural imperfections have been retained, such as natural patterns in the limestone and saw marks left visible in the handmade wooden flooring

Anandaloy, by Anna Heringer, is a community building made from mud in Bangladesh. It was declared the winner of the second annual Obel Award, a new architecture award that aims to "test the boundaries of architecture and transcend the age in which they are created"
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Anandaloy, by Anna Heringer, is a community building made from mud in Bangladesh. It was declared the winner of the second annual Obel Award, a new architecture award that aims to "test the boundaries of architecture and transcend the age in which they are created"
Anandaloy was built using mud and bamboo by a team of locals
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Anandaloy was built using mud and bamboo by a team of locals
Anandaloy measures 253 sq m (2,723 sq ft), which is spread over two floors
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Anandaloy measures 253 sq m (2,723 sq ft), which is spread over two floors
Anandaloy's interior includes cave-like spaces meant as a quiet retreat
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Anandaloy's interior includes cave-like spaces meant as a quiet retreat
Anandaloy's interior is split into two floors. The first floor is taken up by a therapy area for people with disabilities, while the second floor features a workshop for local women
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Anandaloy's interior is split into two floors. The first floor is taken up by a therapy area for people with disabilities, while the second floor features a workshop for local women
Raffles City Chongqing's horizontal skyscraper, by Moshe Safdie, is officially named the Crystal and measures 300 m (984 ft) in length
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Raffles City Chongqing's horizontal skyscraper, by Moshe Safdie, is officially named the Crystal and measures 300 m (984 ft) in length
Moshe Safdie's Raffles City Chongqing includes a cluster of eight skyscrapers, plus its horizontal skyscraper, which is now complete
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Moshe Safdie's Raffles City Chongqing includes a cluster of eight skyscrapers, plus its horizontal skyscraper, which is now complete
Genesis, by Denizen Works, is a floating church that will remain in place for up to five years before traveling along the canal in London, England, to serve another community
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Genesis, by Denizen Works, is a floating church that will remain in place for up to five years before traveling along the canal in London, England, to serve another community
Genesis' pop-top roof is made with sailcloth and is lined with LED lighting, making it glow pleasantly at night
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Genesis' pop-top roof is made with sailcloth and is lined with LED lighting, making it glow pleasantly at night
Genesis is topped by a large skylight, helping fill the interior with daylight
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Genesis is topped by a large skylight, helping fill the interior with daylight
The interior of Genesis includes collapsible tables to allow the space to be used for events, as well as religious services
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The interior of Genesis includes collapsible tables to allow the space to be used for events, as well as religious services
The Lakhta Center, by Gorproject and RMJM, rises to height of 462 m (1,516 ft), making it Europe's tallest tower
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The Lakhta Center, by Gorproject and RMJM, rises to height of 462 m (1,516 ft), making it Europe's tallest tower
The Lakhta Center's overall form is conceived as a spire with five wings that twist as they rise
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The Lakhta Center's overall form is conceived as a spire with five wings that twist as they rise
The Lakhta Center's construction was a huge undertaking and required concrete foundations to be poured continuously for 49 hours straight
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The Lakhta Center's construction was a huge undertaking and required concrete foundations to be poured continuously for 49 hours straight
"The design team [for McDonalds' flagship fast food restaurant in Florida's Disney World Resort] took the final energy profile and explored options for on-site power generation, which included solar, geo-thermal, and wind," explains designer Ross Barney Architects
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"The design team [for McDonalds' flagship fast food restaurant in Florida's Disney World Resort] took the final energy profile and explored options for on-site power generation, which included solar, geo-thermal, and wind," explains designer Ross Barney Architects
Visitors to McDonald's Disney World can ride stationary bikes to make lighting in a green wall area illuminate
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Visitors to McDonald's Disney World can ride stationary bikes to make lighting in a green wall area illuminate
McDonald's Disney World is naturally cooled for much of the year and includes a large semi-outdoor dining space
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McDonald's Disney World is naturally cooled for much of the year and includes a large semi-outdoor dining space
McDonald's Disney World is powered by a total of 1,066 photovoltaic panels
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McDonald's Disney World is powered by a total of 1,066 photovoltaic panels
McDonald's Disney World is naturally ventilated roughly 65 percent of the year
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McDonald's Disney World is naturally ventilated roughly 65 percent of the year
Maggie's Leeds, by Heatherwick Studio, is a cancer support center in the UK that is filled with greenery to offer visitors a healthy environment to heal
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Maggie's Leeds, by Heatherwick Studio, is a cancer support center in the UK that is filled with greenery to offer visitors a healthy environment to heal
Maggie's Leeds is located in an awkward cramped and sloping plot that is also on a busy road and posed challenges for the designers
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Maggie's Leeds is located in an awkward cramped and sloping plot that is also on a busy road and posed challenges for the designers
Maggie's Leeds was constructed using sustainably-sourced wood
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Maggie's Leeds was constructed using sustainably-sourced wood
Maggie's Leeds' interior is designed to foster wellbeing and peace of mind for those undergoing cancer treatment
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Maggie's Leeds' interior is designed to foster wellbeing and peace of mind for those undergoing cancer treatment
During One Vanderbilt's design, KPF drew inspiration from iconic towers like the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building
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During One Vanderbilt's design, KPF drew inspiration from iconic towers like the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building
The One Vanderbilt skyscraper was constructed using steel made of 90 percent recycled content
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The One Vanderbilt skyscraper was constructed using steel made of 90 percent recycled content
Primarily an office building, One Vanderbilt includes 58 floors of office space
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Primarily an office building, One Vanderbilt includes 58 floors of office space
View gallery - 41 images

Though many COVID-19-related delays have hit the construction industry this year, 2020 has still produced more than its fair share of superb architecture. From a hotel with a hole in the middle, to a village community building made from mud. Read on for a look at the fantastic projects that make up our top 10 buildings of 2020.

Our pick of the best buildings of 2020 consists of 10 projects that vary in style and type, but each displays a commitment to design excellence. Europe leads with four projects, while there’s three in Asia, two in the United States, and one on the Indian subcontinent.

Opus - Zaha Hadid Architects

The Opus is the only hotel to have both its exterior and interior designed by the late starchitect Zaha Hadid herself
The Opus is the only hotel to have both its exterior and interior designed by the late starchitect Zaha Hadid herself

Dubai is full of impressive buildings – including the world's tallest – but you can always count on Zaha Hadid Architects to stand out from the crowd and with Opus the firm created a stunning luxury hotel that takes the form of a glass cube with a massive void at its center.

Opus rises to a height of 93 m (305 ft) in Dubai's Burj Khalifa district and contains mostly hotel space, as well as office space and a handful of ultra-luxury residences too. Structurally, it actually consists of two towers which are joined together by an atrium and a skybridge, much like the firm's similar Morpheus Hotel.

Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet - BIG

Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, by BIG, is defined by an attractive spiraling design and is topped by a green roof that helps it take its place well amid the rolling Swiss landscape
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, by BIG, is defined by an attractive spiraling design and is topped by a green roof that helps it take its place well amid the rolling Swiss landscape

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)-designed Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is a museum and workshop created for a Swiss luxury watchmaker. The building is inspired by a timepiece and defined by an attractive spiraling design. It's topped by a green roof that helps it take its place well amid the beautiful rolling landscape.

Its interior is arranged into a spiral path, with the idea being that visitors travel through it as they would the spring of a watch. Structurally, the building, including its green roof, is all supported by its generous curved glazing, which comprises 108 structural glass panels, each of which took three weeks to fabricate.

Eden - Heatherwick Studio

During the design process for Eden, Heatherwick Studio drew inspiration from Singapore's natural landscape
During the design process for Eden, Heatherwick Studio drew inspiration from Singapore's natural landscape

Heatherwick Studio's Eden is a greenery filled residential skyscraper in Singapore that reaches a maximum height of 104.5 m (342 ft), and is one of many examples of the city state's decades-long push to turn its concrete jungles green again.

The skyscraper contains just one luxury apartment per floor and provides well-heeled residents with a lush garden-like private balcony space. Interiors are naturally cooled with carefully placed windows, which also ensure lots of sunlight inside, and the apartments are tastefully furnished with high-end materials.

Anandaloy - Anna Heringer

Anandaloy, by Anna Heringer, is a community building made from mud in Bangladesh. It was declared the winner of the second annual Obel Award, a new architecture award that aims to "test the boundaries of architecture and transcend the age in which they are created"
Anandaloy, by Anna Heringer, is a community building made from mud in Bangladesh. It was declared the winner of the second annual Obel Award, a new architecture award that aims to "test the boundaries of architecture and transcend the age in which they are created"

Recently declared the winner of the second annual Obel Award, Anna Heringer's Anandaloy in Bangladesh is an impressive use of traditional mud building techniques.

It measures 253 sq m (2,723 sq ft), which is spread over two floors. The first is a therapy center for people with disabilities and is accessed by a sloping ramp. Elsewhere lies a series of snug cave-like areas meant as a secluded place of retreat, while the upper floor hosts a clothes-making enterprise for local women.

The Crystal - Safdie Architects

The Crystal is part of the larger US$4.8 billion Raffles City Chongqing project designed by Moshe Safdie that consists of a total of eight skyscrapers
The Crystal is part of the larger US$4.8 billion Raffles City Chongqing project designed by Moshe Safdie that consists of a total of eight skyscrapers

Arguably the year's most impressive large-scale engineering feat and several years in the making, Moshe Safdie's incredible "horizontal skyscraper" has finally opened to visitors in China.

The horizontal skyscraper, officially named the Crystal, is part of the larger Raffles City Chongqing project and is supported at a height of 250 m (820 ft) by four other skyscrapers. It measures 300 m (984 ft) in length and weight comes in at 12,000 tons.

During the construction process, it had to be painstakingly hoisted into position with cranes, with engineering expertise from Arup. An express elevator takes just over 50 seconds to reach the top and, once the doors open, visitors are greeted with a viewing point overlooking the landscape.

Genesis - Denizen Works

Genesis' eye-catching pop-top roof is inspired by organ bellows and is operated by hydraulic rams
Genesis' eye-catching pop-top roof is inspired by organ bellows and is operated by hydraulic rams

Denizen Works' Genesis is a floating church in London, England, that's based on a canal boat. The project is defined by its organ bellows-inspired roof that brings to mind an old pop-top VW bus and can be raised or lowered using a hydraulic system.

The idea is, when it's in use, the roof is raised to maximize headroom for visitors, but when it needs to move on to another location, the roof lowers, allowing it to fit beneath the bridges that are installed along the canal. The interior design is simple but very nicely done, with a focus on natural light and flexibility.

Lakhta Center - RMJM/Gorproject

The Lakhta Center, by RMJM and Gorproject, rises to a height of 462 m (1,516 ft) in Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Lakhta Center, by RMJM and Gorproject, rises to a height of 462 m (1,516 ft) in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Russia's Lakhta Center was recently named the world's best new skyscraper and it's easy to see why. Rising to a height of 462 m (1,516 ft) in Saint Petersburg, the Gorproject- and RMJM-designed tower is also the tallest skyscraper in Europe, but has a surprisingly graceful appearance.

Its overall form is conceived as a spire with five wings that twist as it rises, and its interior features office space, an observation deck, and a restaurant offering choice views of the city.

McDonald's Disney World - Ross Barney Architects

McDonald's Disney World is located in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida
McDonald's Disney World is located in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

McDonald's probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think of sustainability, but with Florida's Disney World Resort Ross Barney Architects has created a remarkably green flagship restaurant for the fast-food giant.

The building generates enough renewable energy with its many solar panels to meet all electrical requirements on a net annual basis (that is, it's Net Zero) and its interior is naturally ventilated for most of the year – which is no mean feat in Florida.

Water usage is kept low with low-flow plumbing and exercise bikes can be used to produce energy. By pedaling the bikes, visitors can illuminate lighting installed in the green wall or charge their smartphones with a little extra juice.

Maggie's Leeds - Heatherwick Studio

Maggie's Leeds is located in St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, England, on an awkward sloping site that posed construction challenges
Maggie's Leeds is located in St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, England, on an awkward sloping site that posed construction challenges

Another project by Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Leeds is located in St. James's University Hospital in England, and provides people living with cancer, and their families, a pleasant and healthy environment to heal and get practical support and advice.

The building is shoehorned onto an awkward sloping site that posed challenges to the construction process and is centered around three counseling rooms, which are likened to oversized planters by Heatherwick Studio. It's made from sustainably sourced timber and is packed with greenery, containing 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants, which visitors are encouraged to help maintain.

One Vanderbilt - KPF

During One Vanderbilt's design, KPF drew inspiration from iconic towers like the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building
During One Vanderbilt's design, KPF drew inspiration from iconic towers like the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building

The supertall One Vanderbilt skyscraper, by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, rises to a height of 1,401 ft (427 m), in Midtown Manhattan, making it the fifth-tallest skyscraper in the US. Though its terracotta and glass exterior harkens back to the golden age of New York City's iconic towers like the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, there's nothing old-fashioned about its approach to sustainable design.

The tower was constructed using steel made of 90 percent recycled content and has a rainwater collection system, high-performance glazing, and efficient heating, helping it reduce its daily energy usage.

View gallery - 41 images
2 comments
ClaudioB
McD?
Are you serious?
ljaques
One can tell the quality of a survey by the choices presented, can't one? (wink)
I'm with ClaudioB.