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Top 5 Coolest Skyscrapers

The B1M | 3:28

Top 5 Coolest Skyscrapers

Fred Mills

13 April 2016

Video Views

TALL is not always cool. Here we round up some of the most interesting skyscrapers in the world that win on their looks, rather than their height. Our only rule is that these structures have to have been built, they can’t be wacky ideas that might never actually become reality. Enjoy!



Conceived by Architect Yansong Ma and constructed by the Shanghai Feizhou Group, the Sheraton Huzhou stands 27 storeys above the Taihu Lake near Shanghai.

The building houses 282 standard rooms and numerous suites. Further facilities include a pool, fitness centre and four restaurants.

"The building is actually a complete oval, as further levels hidden underground complete the form"

The building’s form has earned it nicknames such as the “Horseshoe Hotel” but this is a little misleading. The hotel is actually a complete oval, as further levels hidden underground complete the form.


Milan’s stunning “vertical forest” was designed by Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra with advice from numerous botanists. The project was part of a regeneration of the city’s historic district between Via De Castillia and Confalonieri.

Bosco Verticale consists of one 18-storey tower and another 26-storey tower planted with over 900 trees across their levels. The different species help to moderate the building’s temperature in summer and winter, as well as attenuating noise and combating some of Milan’s smog.

The design was subject to strict load monitoring and wind tunnel testing to ensure that the trees could not topple or be blown over. 

Above: Milan's Bosco Verticale or "vertical forest" (image courtesy of Mishkabear). 


Formerly known as the Swiss Re tower – and to many Londoners as “The Gherkin” – 30 St Mary Axe rises to 41 storeys from the former Baltic Exchange site that was destroyed by a Provisional IRA bomb in the 1990’s.

The building contains six shafts that twist up through its floors providing natural ventilation. An impressive bar under the dome on the top floor offers panoramic views, but this meant that the roof space could not be used to house motor equipment for the lifts. Instead, the lifts stop on lower floors and the uppermost levels are reached by a push-from-below elevator system.

Above: 30 St Mary Axe is built on the site of the former Baltic Exchange.

The tower’s form widens as it rises, responding to the tight site constraints at street level, in the heart of the London’s financial district.

The Foster and Partners design won the prestigious Stirling Prize in 2004, becoming the first building to do so by a unanimous judge’s decision.

It may not be London’s tallest skyscraper, but it is – in our opinion – the coolest.


Sweden’s 54 storey “Turning Torso” tower was intended as a landmark for the country and it certainly achieves that.

Located in Malmö on the Swedish side of the Öresund strait, the building’s 190m twisting structure is formed of nine, five storey segments that house office space and 147 apartments. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava.


Taking our top spot is San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid.

Completed in 1972 and standing 48 storeys high, the building is synonymous with San Francisco and has featured in many films (Escape From Alcatraz, Mrs Doubtfire and A View To A Kill to name just a few). Its pyramid form rises to 260m and two fins on the East and West elevations accommodate a lift and stairwell. The building’s floor plate reduces as it rises meaning that only two of the tower’s 18 lifts actually reach the top.

"Visitors can access a 360 degree video feed of the view from ground level"

Although the tower no longer acts as headquarters for the Transamerica Corporation, it is still heavily associated with the company and is depicted in its logo.

The viewing platform was closed after 9/11, but visitors can now access a 360 degree video feed of the view from ground level. Perfect if you’re not keen on heights!

Above: The Transamerica Pyramid is synonymous with San Francisco.

Were you involved in the design and construction of one of these incredible towers? If so we would love to hear from you. You can get in contact with us here.

This video was kindly powered by Viewpoint.

Images courtesy of Starwood Hotels + Xia Zhi (Sheraton Huzhou, China), Mishkabear, Andrea Passoni and Josef Grunig (Bosco Verticale, Italy), Aurelien Guichard and Hufton+Crow (30 St Mary Axe, United Kingdom), Knuckles, Bjaglin, Mirko Junge (Turning Torso, Sweden) and Daniel Schwen (Transamerica Pyramid, United States).

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