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CTBUH Best Tall Buildings in 2012

Wednesday 13 Jun 2012

Global projects aim high

Absolute Towers: Copyright Tom Arban 
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Italy and Australia make the CTBUH Best Tall Buildings list for the first time 

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has released the names of its Best Tall Buildings for 2012. The seven winners will be presented with their prizes at an awards ceremony at the Mies van der Rohe-designed Illinois Institute of Technology this coming October. It will come as no surprise that China is estimated by the Council to complete the most tall buildings (+200m) in 2012 but the winners of the CTBUH’s Best Tall Buildings Awards recognise two unusual regions.

For the first time, Italy and Australia have been awarded prizes by the Council for their achievements in tall building design: ingenhoven architects and Architectus’ 1 Bligh Street in Sydney won the Best Tall Building Asia & Australasia title and the Palazzo Lombardia building in Milan, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners was awarded the Best Tall Building Europe prize.

1 Bligh Street is a 28-storey office tower in Sydney owned by the DEXUS Property Group and Cbus Property. The elliptical form was realised in June 2011 by structural engineers Enstruct Group and MEP engineers Arup Sydney, and has since become a beacon on the city skyline. Highly innovative in its architectural design, the double skin, naturally-ventilated glass façade and hybrid energy system have boosted the building as an example of sustainability however it was the soaring glass atrium - the tallest naturally ventilated sky-lit atrium in Australia - that spoke to the judges.

Werner Sobek, founder of Werner Sobek Group and a member of the jury panel, explains: “The dramatic, naturally-ventilated central atrium connects the office workers with nature at the inner depths of the plan, giving a sense of openness for the entire building.”

In contrast, the Pei Cobb Freed & Partners-designed Palazzo Lombardia is a 40-storey governmental building whose form undulates across the city fabric of Milan. The main bulk of the building is actually rather low-rise however a 161m spire erupts from the edge of the form, piercing the skyline. Once again, sustainability is key, with a series of green roofs and active climate walls with vertical blades which rotate to provide areas of shade.

The winning element here was the integration of the building into its urban realm, as Antony Wood, Executive Director of the CTBUH, details: “In a city known for history and fashion, the tower is perfectly attuned to the urban environment. More than simply a tower, the project creates a cohesive blend of parks and commercial space, with an appropriately local flair.”

Other winners in the awards scheme include: MAD Architects’ Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Canada which were recognised in the Best Tall Building Americas category for their curvilinear silhouette, the pair of 180m and 158m towers applauded for their ‘organic form’; Ateliers Jean Nouvel’s Doha Tower in Qatar took the Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa title with its multi-layered appearance, with the reinforced concrete diagrid columns and multi-layered patterns striking a chord with the jury who found it ‘a beautiful expression of the local culture’; and Aedas Architects Ltd’s Al Bahar Towers which took the first ever CTBUH Innovation Award for a responsive façade which opens and closes as it reacts to the movements of the sun, reducing solar gain by more than 50%.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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