Finalists for the World’s Best High-Rise


The finalists of this year's International Highrise Award (IHA) have been determined. The jury selected five buildings, three from Europe and two from Asia, from a total of 31 nominated high-rise buildings from 14 countries.

The IHA is considered the world's most important architecture award for high-rise buildings. The winner will be honoured on October 29th in Frankfurt's Paulskirche. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event will be broadcast live on the Internet.

The International Highrise Award (IHA) is presented by the City of Frankfurt am Main together with Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and DekaBank and is endowed with a statuette of the internationally renowned artist Thomas Demand and prize money of 50,000 euros.

The 2020 finalists at a glance:
• Omniturm (Frankfurt am Main/Germany) by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, Copenhagen / Denmark
• Eden (Singapore) by Heatherwick Studio, London / UK
• Norra Tornen (Stockholm / Sweden) by OMA Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam / Netherlands
• The Stratford (London / UK) by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, London / UK
• § Leeza SOHO (Beijing/China) by Zaha Hadid Architects, London / UK

The International Highrise Award is aimed at architects and developers whose buildings are at least 100 meters high and have been completed in the past two years. The jury consists of architects, structural engineers, real-estate experts and architecture critics. It judges the nominated projects according to the following criteria: future-oriented design, functionality, innovative building technology, integration into urban development schemes, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting travel and contact restrictions, a digital jury meeting was held this year. The winner of the IHA 2018, L. Benjamín Romano, joined the jury from Mexico. Under the chairmanship of Anett-Maud Joppien, the discussion was lively and controversial. The focus was on the ecological and social qualities of the buildings. The aspect of resilience in relation to the structure and life cycle of a building was also examined in many of the competition entries. The result is a shortlist of five finalists, representing the enormous range of all the nominated buildings: One of the first mixed-use towers in Germany (Omniturm), a lushly planted luxury residential tower (EDEN), a brutalistic-looking pair of high-rise residential buildings (Norra Tornen), a high-rise building as a motor for the urban development of a neighbourhood (The Stratford) and a prime example of parametric design (Leeza SOHO).

With the Frankfurt Omniturm by BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group from New York / Copenhagen, the first hybrid high-rise in a German city centre has made it to the finalists. For jury member Ina Hartwig, the tower lives up to its name. It combines gastronomy, offices, flats and shops under one roof. This puts it at the top of the international urban development league.

Once again, a project from Singapore is among the finalists. Shell-shaped planters make EDEN by Heatherwick Studio from London a memorable example of a high-rise residential building. With its lush planting it impressively demonstrates the motto of the urban development „City in a Garden“. Jury member Klaus Fäth considers the greening concept to be a „Garden of Eden“, in which the plants are protected by recessed balconies and projecting wall panels. For jury chairman Anett-Maud Joppien, the bulbous shell motifs and green jungles exert a great attraction that cannot be resisted.

Norra Tornen from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam is standing in Sweden's capital Stockholm. There the project forms a gateway to the Hagastaden district. Stockholm's tallest residential buildings cultivate living at height with a pronounced reference to the outside world in northern Europe. Jury member Andreas Moser praises the elegance with which the towers emerge from the lower buildings surrounding them and rates positively the tension between the brutalistic appearance of the towers and their context. Jury member Victor Stoltenburg also considers the design of the structures with modular box-like bay windows and the surface design with rough concrete elements to be a remarkable accent in the cityscape.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill from New York, otherwise known worldwide for its height records, is among the finalists with another residential project. The Stratford in London combines design hotel and design living under one roof and sets new urban development accents in the district of the same name.

The striking large form with deep incisions makes the building a landmark visible from afar. The space, which is characterised by double and single high ceilings created throughout the building, its greened and cantilevered public spaces and the careful massive and translucent design of the envelope create a modern high-rise that inspires L. Benjamín Romano.

An outstanding structural achievement is the Leeza SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects in Beijing, whose glass shell actually conceals a double tower. The atrium between the towers, which is over 190 metres high, is the tallest in the world, and its fascinating curved shapes are only possible with the help of parametric design. For Peter Cachola Schmal, the Leeza SOHO is the sculptural solution of a double high-rise building that focuses on spatial overwhelming and experiences for hundreds of small offices and home offices that are on their way to the new airport to create their digital quarter.

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