ConstructConnect‘s Top 5 Coolest Buildings of 2020

Despite the pandemic, construction carried on and the “top lists” of this year’s architectural marvels are rolling in. ConstructConnect‘s criteria for inclusion on their list boiled down to the following items: The building had to have been substantially completed, topped out, or opened within the calendar year and had to have some aspect that makes the building “cool.” What does this mean? In their terms, it can range from the architecture, sustainability elements, unique construction methods, technology, building materials used, cultural impact, or some combination of these elements. This year, “cool” appears equivalent to “sustainability” along with an “eye on the future.”

Bee’ah Headquarters – Sharjah, UAE

(photo credit: Zaha Hadid)

Zaha Hadid Architects have done it again … the new headquarters for Bee’ah, an environmental services, sustainability solutions, and waste management company, is being billed as “The Office of the Future.” The design of the building mimics the surrounding sand dunes and is a model of sustainability and technology. The new headquarters will be a net-zero energy building (NZEB), fully powered by integrated photovoltaic panels. 

Powerhouse Telemark – Porsgrunn, Norway

(photo credit: Dezeen)

Designed by Snøhetta, the Powerhouse Telemark opened last month and is aiming to be carbon-negative, producing more energy than it will consume during a 60-year lifecycle. Nicknamed the “Green Diamond,” the building includes embodied carbon in the building materials, construction and eventual demolition, thanks in part to the photovoltaic panels covering its roof, canopy, and south façade. The building received a BREEAM Excellent certification features a number of recycled and sustainable materials, a geothermal well for cooling and heating, and other energy conservation materials and systems.

Opus – Dubai, UAE

Opus – Dubai, UAE

(photo credit: Zaha Hadid)

Another building designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the Opus opened in March and is home to offices, restaurants, apartments, and the ME Dubai hotel. It is the only hotel in the world where both the exterior and interiors were designed by the late Zaha Hadid herself. From the outside, the building gives off the appearance of a floating cube with a shapeless hole punched through the middle. The double-glazed façade features a mirrored frit pattern and UV coating to reduce solar gain and save energy along with lighting and climate control systems. The building consists of two concrete towers connected by a steel bridge on top and a large steel supported atrium roof at the base, seamlessly cladded with glazed curtain walling. Even one of the tenants, the ME Meliá Hote,l is committed to sustainability by pledging that the hotel will be zero-plastic by using stainless steel and glass water bottles and implementing a stringent recycling program and eco-friendly waste management program.

The Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, designed by MAD Architects, isn’t just one building — it is a 6 million square foot plus mixed-use development resembling a small village with a mix of low-rise buildings surrounded by 13 mountain-shaped buildings inspired by the Himalayas. MAD strives to achieve a balance of the city’s historic past and its high-tech future. The design of the Zendai Himalayas Center maintains and develops the philosophy of cooperation between humanity and nature, albeit in a modern setting.

Museum of the Future – Dubai, UAE

(photo credit: ConstructConnect)

The Museum of the Future, designed by architecture firm Killa Design alongside Buro Happold, bring design and technology together for a truly unique building. The façade is made of 1,024 stainless steel and fiberglass panels fused together and covered in Arabic script, which double as the building’s windows, bearing quotes about the future from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. The building is powered by a photovoltaic solar array and additional sustainable an environmentally friendly elements such as “passive solar architecture, low-energy and low-water engineering solutions, recovery strategies for both energy and water, and building integrated renewables” in order to achieve its LEED Platinum rating. For more information, check out our MMM Blog published on September 23.

METALCON also has an eye on the future, especially as it relates to the expanding use of metal in architecture. METALCONLive! and Metal Architecture, the leading authority on the use of metal in architectural applications and building design, educating architects, design professionals and engineers, have teamed up to provide a unique series of webinars showcasing projects that illustrate the beauty, durability, efficiency, and sustainability of metal.

We will kick off the New Year with the first of these webinars on January 13 titled, “Civitas and the Role of Metal in Meeting a Zero Carbon World.” REGISTER TODAY FOR THIS FREE LIVE EVENT!