“The Future is faster than you think.” 

(Title of the Book by Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler)

Faster. Higher. Safer. Smarter. That’s how the technology in the last decade (i.e., 2010-2020) looks like. It’s now a matter-of-fact how and what you envision architecture to be. As you can probably guess, this is the time where ‘architecture 2.0’ has its ebbs and flows driven by technology. It is an exponential growth which is more than a few OMGs.

The adoption of technological advancements in architecture has allowed us, architects and designers, to be more creative and move beyond the traditional hiccups of design and construction. 

Visualization in Virtual reality (VR), parametric design, Green building, 3D and 4D printing, Building Information Modelling (BIM), Artificial intelligence (AI) guided designs and robots, Augmented reality (AR), Internet of things (IoT), prototyping, prefabrication—are some of the fundamental shifts that are leading the rail by the tail.

Here are 20 influential projects that provide you a sneak peek into what we witnessed through the last decade (in order of completion).

1. Burj Khalifa

Architect: SOM
Year of completion: 2010
Location: Dubai, UAE

We entered the decade with the Burj Khalifa having a soaring height of 829.8m (2,722 ft), which is 60% taller than Taipei 101 (tallest building in the world previously).

Beyond its height, it is an engineering marvel consisting of hundreds of myriad solutions applying the latest cutting-edge technology in materials, analysis, and construction methods. Fire safety and evacuation being the primary concerns in design, Burj Khalifa was the first mega-high rise that has certain elevators, programmed to permit controlled evacuation for fire/ security events. 

A new structural system was developed to support the height—buttressed core—a hexagonal core reinforced by three buttresses in a Y-shape, providing torsional resistance and keeping it from twisting.

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Burj Khalifa ©www.archdaily.com
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Burj Khalifa ©www.archdaily.com
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Burj Khalifa ©www.archdaily.com
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Burj Khalifa ©www.archdaily.com

2. Viewpoint Snøhetta / Tverrfjellhytta

Architect: Snøhetta
Year of completion: 2011
Location: Dovre, Norway

The architectural concept of Viewpoint Snøhetta is quite simple but is constructed uniquely. The quality and durability of materials were given an emphasis. Local building materials and simple form—a rigid iron box made of pine wood blocks and steel—are used to reflect the context. 

Simultaneously, advanced technologies were used both in design and fabrication. The unique internal form was constructed by the traditional Norwegian shipbuilders using 10-inch square pine timber beams, which were stacked horizontally. 

Based on digital 3D models, these were individually milled using a large-scale robot-controlled 3D CNC milling machine and were assembled on-site like a jigsaw puzzle.

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Viewpoint Snøhetta ©www.archdaily.com
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Viewpoint Snøhetta ©www.archdaily.com
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Viewpoint Snøhetta ©www.archdaily.com
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Viewpoint Snøhetta ©www.archdaily.com

3. Capital Gate

Architect: RMJM
Year of completion: 2011
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

Capital Gate, a mixed-use high-rise building, has a complex geometrical form representing a swirling spiral of sand. The building holds the record for the furthest leaning tower in the world with an inclination of 18 degrees.

The building’s most astonishing feature is its twist towards the south, which shields the building from direct sunlight. The diamond-shaped double-skin facade is made up of glass panels and steel elements. It helps in minimizing glare in intense summers.

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Capital Gate ©www.archdaily.com
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Capital Gate ©www.archdaily.com
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Capital Gate ©www.archdaily.com
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Capital Gate ©www.archdaily.com

4. Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre

Architect: Charles Wright Architects
Year of completion: 2011
Location: Cairns, Australia

Inspired by the 1987 Sci-Fi film Predator (yes, crazy inspiration. Right!), this unique visitor centre is far more beyond its physical scale. Just like the invisible suit worn by the alien-hunter in the movie, this building is designed to be invisible. 

Having a sheer visual presence, sitting within the rainforest, it is a work of art and tech, camouflaging like a chameleon. It is mainly ESD (Environmentally Sensitive Design), with an innovative approach. 

With dramatic kaleidoscopic prism of reflective glass walls, that reflect surrounding botanical garden landscape’s dark, cool, appealing greens only, and has mirror-finished stainless-steel soffits and fascia. It is reminiscing to see liquid metal CGI effects-like liveliness (Remember, Terminator 2?)—the multiple moving reflections combining.

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Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors centre ©www.archdaily.com
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Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors centre ©www.archdaily.com
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Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors centre ©www.archdaily.com

5. CCTV Headquarters

Architect: OMA
Year of completion: 2012
Location: Beijing, China

A reinvention of skyscrapers, defying typical height quest and the laws of gravity—CCTV Headquarters is designed as a singular monolith. The skyscraper has a continuous ‘3-D cranked loop’ form and challenging structure: mainly, the linking of the two 49-storey leaning towers, which bent 90° at the top and bottom to form a continuous tube.

The two towers are connected by a 75m cantilever. This daring overhang is a ‘9-to-13-storey bridge’ that hangs in the mid-air. The braced-tube is the main structural system.

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CCTV Headquarters ©www.archdaily.com
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CCTV Headquarters ©www.archdaily.com

6. Gardens by the Bay

Architect: Grant Associates and Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Year of completion: 2012
Location: Downtown Core, Singapore

Christened ‘Singapore’s Prowess in Green tech’ (by asiagreenbuildings.com), Gardens by the bay will give you a Sci-Fi-movie-types experience and feel. Besides ultra-modern and uber-cool design, Gardens by the Bay is a future-oriented garden that uses cutting-edge technologies for better energy efficiency. 

Sprawling across a 101-hectare lot reclaimed from the sea, it consists of sculptured biodomes housing rare plant species across the globe (the world’s largest glass greenhouse), 18 man-made supertrees, and parkland. The expansive spaces under the freestanding unsupported glass are unobstructed by any column. 

Featuring over 1 million plants from 19,000 species, it is truly a testament to architecture, engineering, and horticulture achievement.

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Gardens by the Bay ©www.kosublog.com
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Gardens by the Bay ©www.kosublog.com
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Gardens by the Bay ©www.kosublog.com
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Gardens by the Bay ©www.kosublog.com

7. The Shard

Architect: Renzo Piano
Year of completion: 2013
Location: London, UK

With 306m height, The Shard has a concrete raft supported by 50-meter-deep piles. This is the world-first (for a skyscraper) which has its core built by the ‘top-down construction’. 

Thus, before the basement beneath had been fully excavated, this technique allowed the first 23 stories of the 72-storey concrete core and much of the surrounding tower to be built beforehand. Thus, cutting-down four months off the complex construction and enabling substantial savings.

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The Shard ©www.archdaily.com
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The Shard ©www.archdaily.com
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The Shard ©www.archdaily.com

8. Silk Pavilion

Architect: Neri Oxman
Year of completion: 2013
Location: MIT Lab, US

Talk about innovation, talk about Silk Pavilion by Neri Oxman. Using a robot as a guide for the live-silkworms to do 3-D printing, is truly astonishing. A futuristic approach, Silk Pavilion is the model for applying environmental design, digital morphogenesis, and biological fabrication on a product/ architectural scale. 

Painstaking research was done before: first, attaching tiny-magnets to the heads of silkworms for motion-tracking their movements, then programming the robotic arm to imitate the way a silkworm deposits silk to build its cocoon. 

After making a kilometer-long silk fiber using a CNC machine for the 26 panels and arranging it to make a dome of 100 square feet (9.3 square meters) of floor space—an army of 6500 live silkworms were let loose to complete the structure. The resulting dome is equal parts to Buckminster Fuller’s!

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Silk Pavilion ©www.media.mitdotedu

 

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Silk Pavilion ©www.media.mitdotedu
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Silk Pavilion ©www.media.mitdotedu

9. One Central Park

Architect: Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Year of completion: 2014
Location: Chippendale, Australia

Featuring 116m world’s tallest vertical gardens, One Central Park is a blend of nature, artistic vision, and public benefit. Consisting of two towers (of 65m and 116m), the building applies two unusual technology controls: Hydroponics, for soil-less plantation; and Heliostats, for maximizing the beneficial use of sun-light. 

42 motorized heliostats and 320 reflective mirror panels which capture and redirect sunlight onto the previously inaccessible shadowed places of the building —is the world-first installation—in terms of its scale, size, and application.

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One Central Park ©www.designboom.com
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One Central Park ©www.designboom.com
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One Central Park ©www.designboom.com
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One Central Park ©www.designboom.com

10. Sustainable City

Architect: Baharash Architecture
Year of completion: 2015
Location: Dubai, UAE

At first, it may seem like: Sustainable? And Dubai? Having one of the highest per-capita-carbon-footprints in the world (according to the World Bank), yes, Dubai is pivoting. Aiming to become a green oasis in the desert, this is a 113-acre mixed-use, solar-powered township containing 500 low-lying villas, 89 apartments, other amenities including 11 biodome greenhouses and farms. 

It is the first operational ‘net-zero-energy’ city in Dubai that recycles its water, produces its food, and makes more energy than it consumes—is a testbed for solar energy at a large scale. What it has achieved since then, is nothing short of remarkable in a desert!

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Sustainable City ©www.enerray.com
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Sustainable City ©www.ggwcup.com
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Sustainable City ©www.ggwcup.com
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Sustainable City ©www.greenparking.ae

11. World Trade Centre Hub / Oculus

Architect: Santiago Calatrava
Year of completion: 2016
Location: New York, US

One of the architectural gems, designed in remembrance of 9/11, Oculus is an ultra-modern transportation hub with a high price tag. Oculus is a culmination of natural light, sculpture form, and public space.

To fit-in the glazing properly, erecting the arches, columns, and rafters involved very tight tolerances. Thus, the arch was erected segment-by-segment, in the free cantilever segmental construction method.

From the environmental perspective, this segmental erection approach also helped in minimizing the footprint of steel fabrication.

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Oculus ©www.architecturaldigest.com
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12. King Power MahaNakhon

Architect: Büro Ole Scheeren
Year of completion: 2016
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

It looks like out of Minecraft. Total Cyberpunk and a “great metropolis”. With a daring design, MahaNakhon Tower has a programmable system that animates its eroded geometry to follow the city’s daily activity cycle and echoes the busy evening rush-hour. 

The unique architectural form—a carving of up to 5m deep ‘pixelated’ spiral of terraces throughout the full height of the tower—posed a major design and engineering challenge. Standing as a modern sculpture, this dazzling, 77-storey tower offers stunning facilities and unique views of the city.

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King Power MahaNakhon ©www.archdaily.com
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King Power MahaNakhon ©www.archdaily.com
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13. Louvre Abu Dhabi

Architect: Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Year of completion: 2017
Location: Dubai, UAE

Accessible by land and sea, an amalgamation of the traditional design concept and modern construction techniques, Louvre Abu Dhabi is designed as a “museum-city in the sea”. Consisting 55 cubic structures beneath, a geometrically ornamented silvery dome hovers over to give an impression of the floating dome. 

Having a diameter of 180m and 36m above the ground, the dome weighs 7500 tonnes (For your reference: Similar to Eiffel tower, i.e., 7300 tonnes of metal structure!), and appears to be weightless. 

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Louvre Abu Dhabi ©www.archdaily.com
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Louvre Abu Dhabi ©www.archdaily.com
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Louvre Abu Dhabi ©www.archdaily.com

14. Zeitz MOCAA

Architect: Heatherwick Studio
Year of completion: 2017
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

An iconic art museum carved out of 116 huge concrete tubes, Zeitz MOCAA is a masterpiece when it comes to the ‘adaptive reuse’ typology. Out of a 93-year-old grain silo complex, without using massive beams, the concrete sleeves were placed into the tubes with the use of inner concrete ‘jacket’—which in itself was an engineering feat. 

The cathedral-like atrium is carved out of the dense cement walls of about 12 tubes, for spaces and galleries. The techniques used were a mix of old-school crafting, sculpting, and surveying to merge old with the new. No wonder, it’s been likened to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

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15. Apple Park / Apple Campus 2

Architect: Foster + Partners
Year of completion: 2017
Location: California, US

You might be familiar with some of its nicknames aka ‘spaceship’ or ‘doughnut’ or ‘ring’ or ‘gigantic flying saucer’. It is no doubt that its form makes it look like a straight-out-of-sci-fi type design. Known for its fine attention to detail, Apple Park having nearly a mile of circumference, is no less than Apple’s products—fine-tuning quality, expertise, and innovation. And it is actually not attached to the ground. 

Yes, Apple Park is made earthquake-ready using ‘base-isolation technology’ that can reduce shaking to 80%. The glazing used in the project is a completely new system, i.e., the 12m high concave sheets of glass for the main façade, the biggest of their kind ever made.

Apple Campus is powered by 100 percent renewable energy. The building is a hallmark of Silicon Valley!

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16. Jewel Changi Airport

Architect: Safdie Architects
Year of completion: 2019
Location: Changi, Singapore

More than just a gateway, Jewel Changi is designed not to be just an airport building—but rather a full-fledged destination. True to its name, it features a 5.6-acre garden, retail outlets, accommodation and leisure activities, the largest indoor waterfall in the world, and a nearly column-free design!

Highly-advanced engineering methods are used, for example, the roof structure breaks new ground in gridshell design. To make roof design work, nearly 10,000 unique triangular panels are connected by 14,000 steel elements. Glass as a material is supported across the approx. 200m roof. Thus, making the world’s largest gridshell enclosed building at 210mx156m.

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Jewel Changi Airport ©www.archdaily.com
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Jewel Changi Airport ©www.archdaily.com
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Jewel Changi Airport ©www.archdaily.com
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Jewel Changi Airport ©www.archdaily.com

17. Leeza Soho Tower

Architect: ZHA
Year of completion: 2019
Location: Beijing, China

Constructing a 20-storey atrium (and the world’s tallest atrium) can take a toll on the construction part, but not for ZHA. Featuring a mix of offices and shops, Leeza Soho Tower, a 207-meter skyscraper, pushes the boundaries of construction, design, and engineering.

Running the full height of the building, the atrium at 194.15 meters overtakes the void in the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai. This 46-storey skyscraper has an advanced 3D BIM energy management system that monitors ‘real-time’ environmental control and energy efficiency.

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Leeza Soho Tower ©www.archdaily.com
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Leeza Soho Tower ©www.archdaily.com
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Leeza Soho Tower ©www.archdaily.com

18. CopenHill / Amager Bakke

Architect: BIG
Year of completion: 2019
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

A multi-functional waste-to-energy (WtE) plant, CopenHill flaunts (atop the plant)—the world’s tallest artificial 86-meter-high climbing wall, an artificial 600-meter ski slope, recreational hiking and running trails, a viewing and picnic plateau, and also a full-service café. 

CopenHill is a perfect example of weaving an infrastructure into an urban fabric for public use and leisure activities. Extracting 100 percent of the energy from the waste, the plant uses Selective Catalytic Reduction technology, which cleans flue gases to minimize NOx emissions. Plus, CopenHill’s total net-energy efficiency is 107 percent!

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19. The Shed

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Rockwell Group
Year of completion: 2019
Location: New York, US

This infrastructural marvel moves on four single-axle and two double-axle bogie wheels, each measuring six feet in diameter. This was built on the gantry crane technology (although old-fashioned technology) usually used in shipping yards. 

The shed measures 70-feet in length and boasts one of the largest ETFE panels made to date. To open and close, the structure takes a little more than the horsepower of a Toyota Prius engine, and only five minutes to fully deploy at one mile per hour speed. And it’s virtually silent!

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The Shed ©www.dezeen.com
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The Shed ©www.archdaily.com
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The Shed ©www.archdaily.com
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The Shed ©www.archdaily.com

20. Museum of the Future

Architect: Killa Design
Year of completion: 2020
Location: Dubai, UAE

Oftentimes (well, most of the time!) museums tell stories about the past, but in this museum, you will feel like stepping into the future. The 7-storey column-less building, covering an area of 30,000 sq.m, with 1024 Arabic calligraphy panels on the façade manufactured by robots. The exterior façade is inspired by the aviation industry. 

In fact, the installation technique used here is the same as that of NASA, i.e., three degrees of freedom were used for making the joints instead of two points lift (i.e., traditional building method).

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Museum of the Future ©www.dubaifuture.ae

What future beholds!

World’s thinnest skyscraper

21. 111W57

Architect: SHoP Architects
Year of completion: 2021
Location: New York, US

Soaring 1428 feet (435.3m) tall, 111W57 is set to become the most-slender tall building in the world.

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111W57 ©www.archdaily.com

World’s longest cantilever

22. One Za’abeel

Architect: Nikken Sekkei
Year of completion: 2021
Location: Dubai, UAE

Utilizing 3D & 4D modeling, it is set to hold the world’s longest cantilever, i.e., 227m in length, and will act as a horizontal link/ bridge connecting the two towers.

 

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One Za’abeel ©www.archdaily.com
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One Za’abeel ©www.archdaily.com

Scientific intelligence/ artificial intelligence, architectural thinking, and machine learning are the mixture of the gig that we see today. It will surely be exciting to see what the future holds for architectural design. And what new technological advancements we are probably set to experience!

Author

Madiha Khanam is an architect and an enthusiast writer. She approaches writing as a creative medium to pen-down her thoughts just like drawing and illustrating. She loves to read and write about architecture, engineering, and psychology. Besides, she loves to watch anime.

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