The conceptual buildings that push the boundaries of design

The latest crop of high-concept buildings opening this year will live long in the memory…

Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower, Taipei

Tao Zhu Yin Yuan - the gentlemans journal

Stare hard and Vincent Callebaut’s building, designed to resemble the double helix structure of DNA, looks like a tree with floors jutting out of a central core as if they’re branches, each rotated a little further around this hi-tech trunk. Tao Zhu, by the way, was one of the first environmentalists, 2,500 years ago.

Latin American Art Museum, Florida

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It took a local art dealer, Gary Nader, and a Mexican architect, Fernando Romero, to create this tribute to Latin American art. But there are some real business smarts behind this plan, too: a $300m twin-tower residence and hotel with more than 400 units will help fund the museum

Huangshan Mountain Village, China 

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Take map contours denoting rising land and recreate them in an architectural form and you get the low-rise residences on the southern shores of Taiping Lake, a Unesco Heritage-status mountain landscape. The towers will be linked by stunning tree-height walkways.

Lofoten Opera Hotel, Snohetta

Lofoten - the gentlemans journal

Want to escape? Like, really escape? This is the hotel for you: Snohetta’s low-rise, wood-shaving shape of a building is situated on a rocky outcrop on Norway’s Lofoten archipelago. Flanked by sea and mountains, this is as elemental as luxury hospitality gets.

Via 57 West, New York

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Every apartment in this block will probably be snapped up by Russian oligarchs and the irony of that – given this Bjarke Ingels-designed building stands at the gateway to Manhattan on the Hudson – shouldn’t be lost. Literally at the core of the building is a 22,000sq ft garden – your own mini Central Park

Zayed National Museum, Abu Dhabi

Zayed nartional musuem abu dhabi - the gentlemans journal

Picture an alien craft from Ridley Scott’s imagination crashing onto – and into – a desert island. Or, if you prefer Norman Foster’s take, see the five elliptical, lop-sided towers as a falcon’s wing tips. These lightweight steel shapes, the heat exchange tech inside them and even the clever use of negative pressure on the lee of each wing’s profile actually encourage natural ventilation – a great boon in these climes. Inside you can explore the history of the UAE – all 45 years of it – and the man who brought the Emirates together, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Tate Modern extension, London

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Take one iconic building, spend £260m and add what Herzog & De Meuron hopes will be another, supplementary one. The superstructure twists, the design supersedes: it will use 54 per cent less energy than current regulations require.

Further Reading