rising high above the ground, towers are the most prominent structures of modern cities. extending life from the urban streets into the sky, they reveal creative ways to solve space problems that arise in crowded urban areas. in 2018, several towers were proposed and completed by award-winning architects that reveal innovative and creative approaches to verticality. a proposal by foster + partners caused a lot of discussion, while a competition to determine who would build australia’s tallest building generated a host of potential schemes. completed projects by BIG and zaha hadid architects also made the headlines.


as we move into december, we continue our annual TOP 10 round up of the year’s most talked about projects with a look at ten proposed and completed towers featured on designboom over the past 12 months.



1 – ‘the tulip’ visitor attraction by foster + partners

tulip londonimage © DBOX for foster + partners



in november, plans were unveiled for ‘the tulip’, a 305-meter-tall (1,000 ft) visitor attraction, which, if realized, would tower above the city of london. designed by foster + partners, the project has been conceived as a new public cultural and tourist destination that would enhance its surroundings. according to the team behind the project, the tulip will bring ‘wide cultural and economic benefits with a diverse program of events’.

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2 – UNStudio & COX architecture win competition to build australia’s tallest building

UNStudio melbourne skyscraperimage © UNStudio



in august, it was announced that UNStudio had won the ‘southbank by beulah’ competition to build a new skyscraper in melbourne, australia. the design is defined by a pair of twisting towers organized around a ‘green spine’ of vertically networked platforms, terraces, and verandas. this configuration also results in porous city views and improved contextual links. the proposal was competing against entries from other high-profile firms, including OMA, MAD architects, and coop himmelb(l)au.

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3 – MahaNakhon by büro ole scheeren

ole scheeren mahanakhonimage by srirath somsawat © büro OS



the opening of the observation deck marked the completion of ole scheeren’s skyscraper in bangkok. designed as thailand’s tallest building and a new architectural landmark for the city, MahaNakhon has transformed bangkok’s skyline. at 314 meters (1,030 feet) high, the observation deck offers spectacular 360 degree views of the bustling urban landscape and chao phraya river below and is now open to the public and the city’s annual 20 million tourists.

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4 – shenzhen energy mansion by BIG-bjarke ingels group

TOP 10 towers and skyscrapers of 2018image by chao zhang



this year, bjarke ingels group (BIG) completed a skyscraper in china that features an undulating building envelope. located on a prominent plot in central shenzhen, the development comprises two towers, which top out at 220 and 120 meters respectively. these high-rise structures are connected with a 34-meter-tall podium that houses the main lobbies, a conference center, a cafeteria, and exhibition space. as an ensemble, the development forms the ‘shenzhen energy mansion’.

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5 – 130 william by adjaye associates

TOP 10 towers and skyscrapers of 2018image by binyan studios



plans were unveiled for david adjaye’s first condominium tower in new york city. titled ‘130 william’, the project will be built in downtown manhattan’s financial district in close proximity to the world trade center site. the nearly 800 foot-tall building (240 meters) will contain 66-stories and a total of 244 luxury residences. ‘the design for 130 william acknowledges the tower’s location on one of the city’s earliest streets,’ explains adjaye. ‘understanding that rich history, I was inspired to craft a building that turns away from the commercial feel of glass and that instead celebrates new york’s heritage of masonry architecture with a distinctive presence in manhattan’s skyline.’

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6 – tokyo plans world’s tallest wooden skyscraper

tokyo-plans-worlds-tallest-wooden-skyscraper-2041image courtesy of sumitomo



japanese developer sumitomo forest joined forces with architectural designers nikken sekkei, announcing plans for the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper. the 1,148-foot (350 meter) skyscraper is set to be completed by 2041 and is located in central tokyo. this project was also shortlisted in the ‘experimental – future project’ category at the 2018 world architecture festival.

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7 – morpheus hotel by zaha hadid architects

zaha hadid morpheus hotelimage © ivan dupont



this year ‘morpheus’, a new flagship hotel for macau’s city of dreams resort, opened its doors to guests. designed by zaha hadid architects (ZHA), the project’s distinctive appearance is informed by the fluid forms found within china’s rich jade carving traditions. conceived as a vertical extrusion of its rectangular footprint, a series of voids is carved through the building’s center. this creates what the architects describe as an ‘urban window’, a void designed to connect the hotel’s interior communal spaces with the city.

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8 – innovationen tower by OMA

OMA norra tornenimage by laurian ghinitoiu, courtesy of OMA



OMA has completed the first of two towers that comprise ‘norra tornen’ — a residential complex in hagastaden, a new district in the north of stockholm. titled ‘innovationen tower’, the building’s design is the expression of a modular system of precast exposed concrete elements. the structure, which rises to a total height of 125 meters (410 feet), contains 182 units ranging from one-bedroom apartments to a penthouse on the top floor. designboom was invited to tour the building, where OMA partner reinier de graaf presented the project in more detail.

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9 – shanghai tower by gensler

shanghai towerimage © connie zhou



rising 632 meters (2,073 feet) and 127 floors into the air, ‘shanghai tower’ is the tallest building in china and the second tallest in the world. construction work on the project began in 2008, with the gensler-designed skyscraper now open in lujiazui — the city’s bustling financial district. conceived as a ‘self-contained city’, the tower comprises nine vertical zones that range between 12 and 15 stories. at the base of the structure, zone 1 contains retail and conference outlets, while zones 2-6 offer office space. zone 7 houses a hotel, with further hotels and boutique outlets found in zone 8. finally, observation levels are included at the peak in zone 9.

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10 – DUO towers by büro ole scheeren

ole scheeren duo twin towersimage © iwan baan



in singapore, büro ole scheeren completed a pair of sculptural towers designed to ‘knit together a previously disparate part of the city’. named ‘DUO’, the project comprises a diverse mix of functions articulated around a 24-hour public plaza. carved to create a series of circular urban spaces — including open-air gardens, walkways, cafés, and restaurants — the towers’ curved façades feature a honeycomb shading system. ‘instead of thinking about the building as just an object in its own right, we have defined the towers through examining urban space and reintegrating the area’s existing architecture into something new,’ says ole scheeren.

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see designboom’s TOP 10 stories archive:

top 10 towers

top 10 towers

top 10 towers

top 10 towers

top 10 towers