Santiago Calatrava; a Spanish Architect, renowned for his stunning amalgamation of structural intelligence and creative designs in bridges as well as buildings. He developed his interest in painting and sculpture from the art and craft school in Spain and further his interest in building made him perform his graduation in architecture, whereas to understand the core of structure as to design it, he graduated as a civil engineer too. He has given some remarkable buildings and one of the award-winning designs among them is Turning Torso, Sweden. Turning Torso was planned to be exhibited in 2001, the European housing Expo. It’s a 90-degree twist from the ground floor to the top floor, each floor is 1.6 degrees rotated to create the twist of the building.

Turning Torso, Malmö, Sweden by Calatrava: Twisting Storeys - Sheet1

Turning Torso, a mixed-use residential building has added a new language to the skyline of Malmö, Sweden. At the time of construction, this 190 m high building was the tallest residential building in the EU and the second tallest residential building in Europe. Being a sculptor, Architect Santiago Calatrava has always thought to transform the object in a new form, and so he does to his building which makes them stand out from the crowd. The spiral form structure of the building was abstracted from the human spine moment. He then transformed his 3D graphic into an architectural drawing. To construct the structure with this form and structure support, he came up with the solution of pentagonal shape floor plans with the pointed edge, which will play a key role to make a person visualize a building as a turning tower. 

Turning Torso, Malmö, Sweden by Calatrava: Twisting Storeys - Sheet2

The pentagonal shape floor is supported by the nucleus of the building working as a core for the structure, and has been used for the vertical transition such as elevators and staircase. The core’s inner diameter is consistently at 10.6 meters (34.8 feet). The thickness of the concrete is 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) at the bottom and gradually tapers to 0.4 meters (1.3 feet) at the top. The shape of the building consists of nine boxes, shaped like cubes with triangular tips. Every unit has five floors of around 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet) and is the ‘sub-buildings’ of the tower. The cast in place reinforced concrete slabs was put up using a sliding framework system. Unit one and two are being designed for office use, while units three to nine are for 147 luxury apartments. The terrace of the building serves the mesmerizing view of Copenhagen. 2250 tilted flat glass windows have been the source of natural light as well as serve a pleasant view of the city, are engraved on the white marble facade with 2800 curved aluminum panels. Each unit is made up of 300 panels.

The structure of the building consists of horizontal and inclined steel pipes in the façade which further supports the concrete columns and also the shear wall at the back. The reinforced concrete core of the structure is followed by the diagonal and horizontal supports with other floors and these supports further transfers the shear force to the spine of the structure. Apart from the incredible architecture design by the architect, he has been successful in making it accessible for handicaps and contributes towards sustainable design where the organic waste from the building goes to the biogas plant through different pipelines of the building which further converts it into energy, high sill windows are created to intake the maximum daylight and the energy used by the building is by renewable sources such as solar, wind hydro, geothermal source. The interior of the Tower as well as the artwork in the building is designed by Calatrava. The terrace of the building serves the mesmerizing view of the city. Three basements were created for the parking purpose. Floor 53 and 54 are designed for meeting purposes and are named as “Torso Meeting”. It’s aesthetic and sustainability has laid them many awards and also got featured in various books.

Turning Torso, Malmö, Sweden by Calatrava: Twisting Storeys - Sheet3

Turning torso was declared as 2015’s winner of the 10 Year Award by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)on 12 November 2015, and has proven to add value to the city. It has influenced the architecture designs of the skyscraper in the past.

“The Twisting Torso is one of those superb examples that went beyond the creation of a signature tower and helped shape an entirely new and invigorating urban fabric,” said Timothy Johnson, Vice Chairman, CTBUH Board of Trustees and Partner, NBBJ.

The creative mind of Calatrava has always dragged him to change a standard vision towards architecture. His breath-taking inventions in architecture and structure designed has always amazed the world. Through this, he made a new turn in the industry of skyscraper design and as of now, for the residents of Sweden, Turning Torso has become their pride.


Divya Singh Rathore is a graduate in Architecture who believes in learning through exploration. For her, architecture is creative freedom and a way to connect to the people. She wants to amalgamate her passion for writing with her architectural practice and share it with the world.

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