From supertalls to tiny shacks, meditation spaces to an entire wellness hotel, this cache of architectural projects filled us with excitement this year. Some of them we featured on the site, and others we admired from afar…

Hotel Terrestre in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Photography: Fabian Martínez

Alberto Kalach of studio Taller de Arquitectura X completed a collection of 14 solar-powered villas near the Oaxacan coast, built with hand-packed mud bricks and Maqui wood. Together with several silo-like outbuildings containing a pool, spa and outdoor showers, they resemble prehistoric structures and operate with very little impact on the region’s resources.

RKM 740 in Dusseldorf, Germany

Photography: David Franck

The ‘zipper’  by Jürgen Mayer is a white metal-clad residential tower on a bend of the Rhine that seems to curve and sway. The rippling cladding separates to reveal deep-set windows and vast balconies. A six-storey volume around the base houses medical facilities and doctors’ clinics related to the nearby hospital.

Wooden Pavilion #2 in Zhenjiang

Photography: Songkai Liu

LIN Architecture designed this striking wood meditation hut in Jiangsu province with unexpected, ergonomic curves. Seats are spaced at a distance so members of the public can sit together yet apart. See more.

111 West 57th Street, New York

Photography: SHoP Architects

SHoP Architects designed the facade of this ultra-slim, supertall residential tower – one of the tallest in Manhattan – with a vertical pattern of terracotta, brass and glazing – which, viewed at a distance, create a moiré effect. A series of gradual setbacks result in a feathered profile, narrowing to a wisp at 1,428 feet.

St Nicholas Church, New York

Photography: Alan Karchmer

Taking on the herculean task of rebuilding St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, destroyed during the 9/11 attacks, Santiago Calatrava drew from Byzantine and classical architecture in his design. He used Pentelic marble for the four cylindrical stone towers and crafted faceted glass ribs to support the colossal dome over the nave. See inside the space.

Hubertus hotel’s Hub of Huts in South Tyrol, Austria

Photography: Alex Filz

The huts in question, by German-Italian architecture practice Noa, perch on a 20m overhang hovering 15m above the village of Olang. The upper level is a dedicated well-being extension with a pool and steam rooms; the trompe l’oeil lower level, affixed with upside-down gables, houses a water-purification system and seating area. The extension is accessed by a suspended walkway/cantilever.

National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait City

Photography: Nigel Young

Lording over Kuwait Bay from the capital’s financial district, this 300-metre dhow-shaped bank headquarters opens like a shell to the north to avoid solar gain and wears a series of concrete fins on the south exposure to offer structural support and shade in the 40-degree heat. The 60 storeys are interspersed with ‘sky lobbies’ for staff meetings and facilities, which use passive energy.

Paseo Mallorca 15, Palma

Photography: José Hevia

This sustainable apartment block on a tree-lined, canal-side promenade was designed by Spanish architects OHLab using wooden slats that filter the sun. Residents enter past a green wall and courtyard garden, with access to landscaped terraces and pools on the upper floors. Each living space is designed so the communal areas face the best views and best daylight. The darker, more private areas are faced in local stone.

Stories in Amsterdam

Photography: Olaf Gipser Architects

A waterfront residence in the north of Amsterdam, Stories was built from cross-laminated timber around a concrete core. The final, outer layer of balconies – each deep enough to accommodate large plantings – is made from white steel. The scheme was a collaboration between Olaf Gipser Architects and the housing cooperative BSH20A.

Shanghai Library East, Shanghai

Photography: RawVision Studio

The subtly pleated facade of Shanghai’s newest library takes inspiration from the ancient rocks scholars call Taihu stones. A glassy monolith offering 115,000 square metres of quiet space, it’s located next to the vast Century Park in the Pudong District, east of the Huangpu River. An interior of slatted oak and bamboo houses 4.8 million books.

Up next: Helsinki’s Oodi has opened – and it’s redefining the role of public libraries

A miner’s canteen in Handan, China, is reborn as a culture centre

Bratislava’s Jurkovič Heating Plant is reborn as a giant culture hub



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