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Morpheus, by Zaha Hadid Architects, in Macao, China

Photos: Zaha Hadid Architects

Macao, China – considered one of the richest cities in the world – is hardly bereft of outlandish architecture. With more casinos than Vegas, this is a town where you either go big or you go home. It’s a perfect playground, then, for Zaha Hadid Architects to push the limits of structural and technological engineering, which is precisely what Morpheus is all about. Billed as the world’s first free-form exosketelon tower, its 40 stories embrace a reinforced concrete core, which gives the 150,000-square-metre highrise its lateral stability while minimizing the need for extensive internal structural requirements.

From the street, tourists will behold two rising glass volumes joined at the top and bottom to form an oval, with two access bridges traversing the open centre. The entire building appears as though encased in fishnet. Five different glazing systems have been applied and a non-repetitive doubly-curved aluminum cladding makes up the exterior. When the 780-guest luxury hotel opens this spring, it will become part of the larger City of Dreams complex.

Ninjing Green Towers, by Stefan Boeri, in Ninjing, China

Photos: Stefan Boeri Architetti

When Stefan Boeri’s Bosco Verticale opened in Milan in 2014, it was hailed a masterpiece. Before its completion, no building had ever been engineered to contain full-grown trees on every balcony, and feed off of an integrated irrigation system. (Pruning is done by “flying garderners” ­- arboriculturists who do the trimming while tethered to 300-metre ropes.) The novelty of Boeri’s vision has inspired cities elsewhere to want their own vertical forests. Ninjing Green Towers, two tree-covered skyscrapers that contain offices, a luxury hotel, a museum, and an architecture school, is about to open in the eastern Chinese city.

Its balconies and rooftop will hold a total of 1,100 trees and 2,500 shrubs. Lausanne, Switzerland, will also see its own Boeri towers reach completion this year. The largest version of Boeri’s tree towers is still far into the future, though it is underway, in Liuzhou, China, where dozens of mountain-shaped buildings will be covered in some 40,000 trees and nearly one million plants that will absorb an estimated 10,000 tons of CO2 and 57 tons of pollutants annually.

Calgary New Central Library, by Snøhetta and Dialog, in Calgary, Alberta

Photos: Snøhetta

Snøhetta may be a practise with global reach, but Calgary’s fingerprints are all over its latest library project. The New Central Library, designed in tandem with Dialog, references the prairie town at every turn: Its entrance is shaped like a chinook, the gusts of coastal air that warm up the city’s frigid winters. Its interiors are a nod to the neighbouring foothills, with four wood-slatted levels undulating around a grand atrium, which serves as a covered public square. Outside, the library is outfitted with a tessellated, fritted-glass facade, meant to resemble a “ship sailing into the future.” The building wraps over an existing Light Rail Transit corridor that connects to the city’s financial district.

At 240,000 square feet, the library is also joined by a public plaza formed from terraced seating areas, meant to provide informal meeting areas and performance spaces.

Indeed, this building is about the Calgary of tomorrow – no disrespect to the Stampede, but there’s no cowboy imagery, here. Rather, the $245-million project is a key piece of connective tissue, linking the historic downtown (where low-rise brick is the standard typology) to the East Village, where the National Music Centre, by WorkAC, now lives. Located across from city hall, the November opening of the New Central Library may turn Calgary’s east side into the city’s de facto centre.

Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art, by Herzog & de Meuron, in Hong Kong

Photos: Herzog & de Meuron

No official date has been announced, but this cultural centre is slated to open mid-2018 in Hong Kong, after major construction delays. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the campus incorporates the adaptive reuse of 16 historic buildings, including the neoclassical Central Police Station. In May, 2016, one of that structure’s exterior walls collapsed, just months before the Tai Kwun Centre’s original planned opening, which set the project back by about two years.

Herzog & de Meuron’s two new buildings, Arbuthnot Auditorium and Old Bailey Galleries, total 1,486 square metres. Incorporating performance venues, event spaces and extensive galleries, the structures are characterized by a unique cast aluminum facade, in a pattern that references the masonry block walls already on site. Textural and semi-perforated, the cladding provides structural support, along with sun shading and rain protection for the buildings. It sets the new buildings apart while also creating a common expression amongst the historic context.

National Veterans Memorial & Museum, by Allied Works Architecture, in Columbus, Ohio

Photos: Allied Works Architecture

On our watch list since placing as a finalist in the 2016 AZ Awards Unbuilt Concepts category, Ohio’s National Veterans Memorial & Museum is scheduled to celebrate its grand opening this summer. Set on the banks of the Scioto River, the Allied Works Architecture-designed 5,109-square-metre structure reads like a cyclonic volume, with cast-in-place concrete bands undulating around a clear glass curtain-wall epicentre, acting as a visual representation of the branches of service honoured within.

Its circular formation will integrate a sweeping processional ramp, an open-air theatre, a rooftop sanctuary and an event space. Inside, the space will play host to both permanent and temporary exhibition galleries. A double-height atrium will commemorate soldiers’ names, dates and battles throughout history, and display artifacts, memories and personal belongings from the men and women who have served their country. The narrative of the design is intended to create an identifiable connection between military service and broader ideas of public and community service.

Fitting seamlessly into its surroundings, the six-acre landscape (by OLIN) is a meandering, meditative spot for reflection and features a ceremonial stand of trees and tree-lined pedestrian walk (roughly 250 trees from 21 varieties will be planted), a green roof and a 99-metre-long memorial grove water feature wall.

The Grand Egyptian Museum, by Heneghan Peng Architects, in Giza, Egypt

Photos: Heneghan Peng Architects

Designing King Tut’s new home is no small feat. But Dublin-based Heneghan Peng Architects was chosen for the task in 2003 (beating out 1,500 competitors in a bid to create the Grand Egyptian Museum). At that time, it was one of the biggest architectural competitions in history. Fifteen years and $1 billion on, the palace of Egyptology is nearing completion, and it’s a sprawling structure strategically sited between Cairo and the ancient Giza pyramid complex.


Located on a desert plateau, its most prominent feature is an 80-metre translucent stone wall, featuring geometric patterns that nod to the nearby pyramids. The triangular site is further surrounded by retaining walls – the largest, the Menjaurus Wall, is 500 metres wide and rises to 35 metres – which shield the site from blowing desert sands.

At 100,000 square feet, the site has a massive footprint, but Heneghan Peng has ensured it won’t detract from the nearby sights. The museum is sunken into the plateau with a 24-metre staircase providing unrivalled views of the pyramids. The grounds feature grassy gardens, education facilities, a 1,000-seat auditorium and 24,000 square metres of exhibition space, which will eventually showcase 100,000 precious artifacts. To further minimize the museum’s scale, conservation and energy facilities are underground; they connect to the above-ground areas through a 220-metre tunnel. Expect a soft opening in May.


Stackt Market, by Stackt and LGA Architectural Partners, in Toronto


Photos: Stackt/LGA Architectural Partners

Shipping containers have been recommissioned into everything from bespoke homes and student housing to construction site offices, so their reuse in urban environments isn’t new. Still, we have a weakness for them, as inspiring symbols of quick-and-easy, budget-friendly building, and as manifestations of a guerrilla spirit. Now on the books in Toronto are plans to use the industrial mainstay as the basis for a temporary community hub in the city’s downtown west end, opening this spring.

Spearheaded by locals Matt Rubinoff and Tyler Keenan, Stackt Market will transform the site of a former smelting plant that has stood vacant since 2014 into a multipurpose public space, with the majority of the expected 130 containers devoted to pop-up retail space. The rest of the stacked volumes will be open to cultural, arts and events programming. It’s a temporary endeavour – Rubinoff and Keenan have a two-and-a-half-year lease to use the 9,290-square-metre plot of land before future plans of turning it into a park get started – but one that promises to breathe new life into a neglected area of the city.

8600 Wilshire, by MAD Architects, in Beverly Hills, California

Photos: MAD Architects

One of MAD’s recently completed high-rise projects – Chaoyang Park Plaza in Beijing – evokes a pair of mountains. For the Chinese firm’s U.S. debut, it has downsized to a single hill, although that doesn’t make 8600 Wilshire, an 18-residence “hillside village” in the heart of Beverly Hills, any less ambitious. Rising more than 18 metres above its namesake boulevard, the California complex mimics a small, scrubby hill, echoing the L.A. foothills nearby. Atop and within the “hill,” which is wrapped in a water-efficient living wall composed of drought-tolerant succulents and vines, sits a cluster of housing types, including townhouses, villas, studios and condos.

At street level, the living wall meets glass storefronts, creating the effect of “a floating plinth that resembles local privacy hedges.” Hidden away from the street is an elevated courtyard containing mature trees, native plantings and a water feature that flows gently into a reflecting pool in the lobby below. In Beijing, MAD proved that it can move the biggest (artificial) mountains. It takes a village like this – the firm’s attempt at “coalescing nature and community” in a busy urban setting – to show that it can do smaller and denser just as well.

V&A Museum of Design Dundee, by Kengo Kuma Associates, in Dundee, Scotland

Photos: Kengo Kuma Associates

When the V&A Museum of Design Dundee opens its doors on the Scottish city’s waterfront later this year, it will mark a series of historic firsts. The building, which overlooks the River Tay, is Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s inaugural project in the United Kingdom. It’ll be the first and only branch of the Victoria & Albert anywhere in the world outside London. And it’ll be Scotland’s first museum dedicated to design.

Built at a cost of over £80 million, the structure itself is an architectural feat. Inspired by Scotland’s rocky northeast coast, its curving exterior walls are made of concrete punctuated with 2,500 pre-cast rough stone panels weighing up to 3,000 kilograms each and having a width of up to four metres apiece. This irregular surface, made up of 21 separate wall sections, is meant to evoke a Scottish cliff face.

Overall, the building covers 8,000 square metres, 1,650 of which are gallery spaces. It’ll be heated and cooled primarily with geothermal energy, making it a model of sustainability.

Mount Fuji World Heritage Center, by Shigeru Ban Architects, on Honshu Island, Japan

Photos: © Hiroyuki Hirai

In 2013, Shigeru Ban Architects won the bid to design the Mount Fuji World Heritage Centre after Japan’s tallest mountain was named a Unesco World Heritage Site. But, the architect conceded at the time, it would be unwise to create a structure that competes with the snow-capped symmetry of Fuji. So he designed a building that references the mountain in form.

Set on a 4,300-square-metre plot, the building is defined by an inverted, timber-latticed cone. On still days, reflecting pools around the site portray the building as an image of Mount Fuji itself, which is conveniently located 32 kilometres from the center. Inside, a 193-metre spiral slope – meant to recreate the sensation of climbing Fuji – guides visitors through 10 stations filled with installations and educational information about the dormant volcano. At the slope’s “peak” is a viewing tower outfitted with floor-to-ceiling glazing, providing what Ban calls a “picture window” that stunningly frames Fuji. Mount Fuji World Heritage Center is currently open.

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