CORPUS Magazine

The Sky’s the Limit - The Finalists of the International Highrise Award

High-rise construction has been experiencing a genuine renaissance for some time now. This is not surprising, since building land is precious in the growing cities around the globe. And where expansion at ground level is complicated and expensive, the only way is up. But what is state-of-the-art in high-rise construction? This question is answered by a look at the list of finalists for the International Highrise Award, which in 2020 comprises three buildings in Europe and two in Asia.

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The International Highrise Award is considered the most prestigious accolade for high-rise buildings worldwide. This year, 31 buildings from 14 countries were nominated, 5 of which made it to the final round. Eligibility is relatively straightforward. The award targets architects and developers whose buildings are at least 100 meters high and were completed in the last two years. A jury of architects, structural engineers, real estate specialists and architecture critics judges the entries on six counts: forward-looking design, functionalism, innovative construction technology, urban integration, sustainability and cost-effectiveness. This year, the jury’s deliberations focused primarily on the buildings’ ecological and social qualities. The aspect of robustness of the structure and life cycle of each building also received a good deal of attention. The outcome is the shortlist of five finalists, representative of the broad spectrum of nominees: one of the first mixed-use towers in Germany, a lushly planted luxury residential tower, a brutalist-looking pair of residential high-rises, a high-rise building as a catalyst for the urban development of a neighborhood, and a shining example of parametric design.

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Omniturm, Frankfurt 

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) (New York/Copenhagen) Frankfurt’s Omniturm is the first hybrid building in a German urban center to make it to the finalround. The tower does full credit to its name, as it combines hospitality, offices, apartments and stores under a single roof. By international comparison, the Omniturm is therefore right in tune with the times.

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EDEN, Singapore
Heatherwick Studio (London) EDEN is another project from Singapore among the finalists. Scallop-shaped planters make the building a memorable example of a high-rise residential building. With its luxuriant vegetation, it impressively embodies the urban development principle of “the city in a garden”. The greening approach ensures that the plants are protected by recessed balconies and projecting wall slabs.

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Norra Tornen, Stockholm
Office for Metropolitan Architecture (Rotterdam) Located in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, Norra Tornen forms a gateway to the Hagastaden district. The tallest residential buildings in the city cultivate living at height with a pronounced reference to the outside world. The elegance with which the towers emerge from the lower buildings surrounding them contributes to the tension between their brutalist appearance and their context. The design of the structures with modular box-like bay windows and their rough concrete surfaces inject a remarkable accent into the urban setting.


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The Stratford, London
Skidmore, Owings & Merill (New York) The Stratford unites designer hotel and designer living on a single site and adds a new urban quality to its neighborhood. Its striking large form with deep incisions makes the building a landmark identifiable from far off. The spaciousness created by double and single floor heights throughout the building, its greened and self-supporting public spaces, and the painstaking, solid and translucent design of the shell yield a high-rise building exceptionally modern in character.


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Leeza SOHO, Beijing
Zaha Hadid Architects (Beijing) The Leeza SOHO is first and foremost an outstanding structural achievement, as its glass shell actually harbors a twin-tower structure. The over 90-meter-high atrium between the towers is the tallest in the world, and its fascinating curved shapes are only possible with the aid of parametric design. The Leeza SOHO is the sculptural solution of a twin-tower skyscraper that aims for an overwhelming spatial experience.

The International Highrise Award is conferred by the City of Frankfurt am Main in collaboration with the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and DekaBank and is endowed with EUR 50,000 in prize money.


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