Oasia Hotel Downtown. Image: WOHA
Oasia Hotel Downtown. Image: WOHA

Singapore’s Oasia Hotel Downtown has been named the world’s best tall building at the 2018 Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) awards.

The 60-storey towers, which also won Best Tall Building Asia & Australasia, impressed judges with its red aluminium mesh facade that is entwined with 54 different species of plants, and open communal areas called “skyspaces”.

“This project won not only because it incorporates 60 storeys of green walls along the exterior, but because of its significant commitment to communal space,” CTBUH executive director and awards juror Antony Wood said.

“The tower has given over 40 per cent of its volume to open air.”

Regional winners and finalists for the world’s best title included American Copper Buildings in Manhattan, New York taking out Best Tall Building Americas; The Silo in Copenhagen, Denmark winning Best Tall Building Europe; and Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa scoring Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa.

Manhattan’s American Copper Buildings are apartments with two towers of 47 and 40 storeys. Clad in copper on the north and south facades, the colour and refractive qualities of the buildings are set to “patina gracefully over time, shifting from a russet brown to a signature blue-green throughout the years”, the jury said.

American Copper Buildings. Image: JDS Development Group

SHoP Architects principal Gregg Pasquarelli said one of his favourite features was the pool in the three-storey skybridge connecting the towers.

“We said we had to put the pool in the [sky]bridge so that you could swim from one skyscraper to the other, 300 feet in the air,” he said. “It creates this new idea of what urban living on the waterfront can be.”

Copenhagen’s The Silo is the transformation of former industrial silo into a 17-storey apartment tower, featuring a galvanised steel facade to act as a climate shield.

The Silo. Image: Rasmus Hjortshõj

“The Silo embodies the importance of restoring original structures in cities, as a matter of environmental sustainability, as well as an ethical and visionary approach to cultural heritage,” the jury said.

Architecture firm COBE’s project director Caroline Nagel said a key challenge was staying true to the original structure.

“For architects, one of the hardest jobs of working on a project like this is that we’re already falling in love with the old silo structure, this monolithic, slim and aesthetic building, and it’s a question of how you can transform it into a liveable building that still contains the old soul of the silo,” she said.

Cape Town’s Zeitz MOCAA was another adaptive reuse winner, transforming a waterfront grain storage and silo complex into a museum and luxury hotel.

Zeitz MOCAA. Image: Iwan Baan

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront development director Mark Noble said he had to fight for the adaptive reuse.

“It was a challenging undertaking, and there were very loud calls for the original structure’s demolition,” he said.

“There’s no surprise as to why – it’s valuable real estate, and much less risky to build something new. But my response to that was, ‘Why would you do that?’ It was the mix of old and new that drew us to the project, and there’s multiple layers of history there. We didn’t want to wipe the slate clean, and what would you replace it with that has this much power?”

All up, 10 awards winners were chosen from a group of 48 Finalist projects representing 28 countries.

Sydney’s very own EY Centre took out the Construction Award thanks to its worlds-first use of a timber-and-glass closed-cavity façade (CCF) system that is key to its sustainability performance.

EY Centre. Image: Mirvac

“The facade is characterised by the revolutionary use of timber,” Mirvac Construction general manager, design management & construction Jason Vieusseux said.

“Prior to the EY Centre, a closed-cavity façade had never been used a high-rise before. We wanted to reimagine the commercial high-rise as an art form.

“The best thing about the project is its sense of place; the vision was to use natural materials, in this case timber and stone, to make it more inviting.”

The Urban Habitat Award went to New York’s World Trade Center Master Plan for its “welcoming and open space that is meant to foster the democratic values of public assembly that played a pivotal role in the city’s collective response to the attacks of September 11, 2001”.

World Trade Center Master Plan. Image: Joe Woodhead

“You can break some buildings, but you can’t break our spirit,” Studio Daniel Libeskind partner Carla Swickerath said.

“In essence, this was the inspiration for the World Trade Center Master Plan. The most important aspect of the memorial is that it’s open to all as a completely public space. Although the intention of the September 11 attacks was to frighten us, we didn’t want security on the site; we wanted it to be open and free.”

The Innovation Award winner was MULTI, the world’s first ropeless, multi-directional elevator, which, apart from being able to travel horizontally, requires fewer and smaller elevator shafts, and increasing lettable space by up to 25 per cent.

MULTI. Image: ThyssenKrupp

“Given the rapid advance of technology, who knows what buildings will look like in 10 years?” ThyssenKrupp chief executive for MULTI Michael Cesarz said.

“Cities are changing, and we need to be flexible in order to adapt. MULTI is like a merger between a train and an elevator using linear motor technology. In terms of frequency and routes, we can create the equivalent highways and city roads in the shaft of an elevator.”

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