As we prepare to enter a new decade, the rapid rise of urban skylines around the world is continuing apace. Once again, China and the Middle East are the main regions where
supertall construction is concentrated, but Kazakhstan, Poland and Malaysia provide surprising additions to this year’s top 10.
A race is currently underway that may see
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa eclipsed as the tallest manmade structure in the world in 2020. However, there are doubts as to whether either the much-delayed Jeddah Tower or the Dubai Creek Tower (an observation tower rather than a skyscraper) will actually reach their proposed heights this year.
As usual, we’ve turned to the
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat for the latest data on official building heights and construction progress. Current economic and political uncertainty are making it even more difficult than usual to predict what might happen with some of these epic projects, but in the spirit of optimism that often often comes with a new decade, we’ve reintroduced a few late-running buildings that might just make it a stellar start to the 2020s.
Finally, an increasing global focus on sustainability has resulted in greater efforts to construct tall buildings using more ecological methods and materials, which is reflected in our special mention of significant wooden towers currently under construction.
1. Jeddah Tower
Could this be the year that the tallest manmade structure of all time finally tops out? Construction of the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia has been plagued by political, economic and labour issues, with the proposed completion date of 2020 deemed unrealistic for many years now. However, recent noises hint that construction may be stepped up in the coming months so there remains a possibility that the building designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture might reach its final height of around 1,000 metres by the end of the year. Just don’t bet your house on it.
Credit: Smith + Gill
2. Wuhan Greenland Center
It might seem naive to keep including this tower in Shanghai in our list, but following a recent suspension of construction work, progress is set to resume and the tower may yet reach its full height in 2020. As with Jeddah Tower, the project has been beset by a raft of problems, including the need to scale down its proposed height to 475 metres due to airspace regulations.
Courtesy of the Greenland Group
3. Dongguan International Trade Center
Part of a complex of five separate buildings in downtown Dongguan, this 432-metre tower will rise above a six-story retail podium containing stores and restaurants. The design by global architecture firm 5+design is inspired by Dongguan’s natural surroundings in the Pearl River Delta, and the building is situated to provide a direct line of sight to the nearby Huanggi Mountain. Its bevelled silhouette references the bud of the Yulan magnolia and it is topped with a symbolic lantern.
4. Diamond Tower
Details are sparse about the projects currently under construction in Saudi Arabia, but while we await updates on the progress of Jeddah Tower, it appears this 432-metre residential supertall is likely to top out in 2020. If it does, the 93-story tower will become the second tallest building in Saudi Arabia and one of the tallest residential buildings in the world. The design credited to Buruoj Engineering Consultancy is notable for its twisting form and it is claimed that, once completed, it will be the only building in the world to twist a full 360 degrees along its height.
5. Abu Dhabi Plaza
Abu Dhabi Plaza is a mixed-use development taking shape in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan. The project comprises five towers and a retail podium, with one of the towers set to become the tallest building in the Commonwealth of Independent States formed by the former Soviet Republics. The 382-metre tower designed by as part of the masterplan by HKR Architects will become the central beacon for the new urban district.
Credit: H K Architects
6. Shenzhen Center
Back to China, where the Shenzhen Center is rising high above the city’s Great China International Exchange Square. The tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates features four overlapping facade screens that taper slightly towards the top. The layered form was inspired by the overlapping petals of the bougainvillea flower. The 375-metre-tall tower will contain a mixture of offices and residential units, with a retail podium at the base bordering a new public plaza.
Credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
7. Thamrin Nine Tower 1
Tower 1 is the main landmark of the Thamrin Nine Development in downtown Jakarta. At a height of 335 metres, it will become the Indonesian capital’s first supertall skyscraper. The design by American firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates comprises a layered composition of glazed boxes intend to form a vertical city containing a range of public and private functions. The upper floors will accommodate the Waldorf Astoria Hotel alongside public observation decks looking out across the city to the mountains and ocean beyond.
Credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox
8. Shimao Qianhai Project Tower 1
In the booming Chinese city of Shenzhen, this mixed-use high rise occupies a prominent position in the new Qianhai financial district. The 330-metre building designed by global architecture firm Gensler features a subtly twisting design that gives it a unique appearance and helps to disperse powerful gusts of wind. The tower appears to comprise two separate parts that intertwine as they reach upwards, reflecting the close relationship between China and nearby Hong Kong.
9. Varso Tower
The 310-metre Varso Tower in Warsaw will become the tallest tower in the European Union upon its completion, narrowly surpassing The Shard in London. The 53-story building was designed by Foster+Partners to accommodate premium office accommodation connected by an underground link to the adjacent Warsaw Central Station. Visitors will be welcomed into a glazed central plaza containing full-height trees, before ascending in panoramic elevators to a viewing platform on the highest floor.
10. Kempinski Hotel & Residences
This mammoth development in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle comprises a pair of adjoining residential towers linked to a 308-metre-tall hotel by a central retail podium. Malaysian investment group KSK Land is behind the 8 Conlay project, which will be operated by Kempinski Hotels. RSP Architects masterplanned the development, which takes its inspiration from the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang. The interiors will be overseen by Philippe Starck and John Hitchcox’s YOO design group.
HoHo Vienna – 2020’s tallest timber tower
There has been a great deal of interest in the possibilities for wooden skyscraper construction in recent years, with the 85-metre Mjøstårnet in Norway claiming the title for the world’s tallest timber tower in 2019. Significant projects set to complete in 2020 include the 84-metre HoHo Vienna, which features exposed wooden blocks on its facades, and Shigeru Ban’s 19-story Terrace House in Vancouver, which is slated to become North America’s tallest hybrid timber structure.