But at the dawn of a new decade, it seems fitting to look ahead at the structures set to shape our cities — and architecture itself — in the coming year.
From museums and skyscrapers, to a hotel with a hole in it, these are CNN Style’s most anticipated buildings opening or completing in 2020.
Vancouver House, Vancouver, Canada
BIG / Luxigon
Twisting from a triangular base to a rectangular top, Vancouver House appears to defy the laws of engineering when viewed from afar.
The pixelated facade, also characteristic of Ingels’ work, helps to create deep-set balconies for residents in the 493-foot-tall tower.
Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, Nanjing, China
Irregular white fins give the complex’s towers the appearance of icy mountains, their flowing lines contributing to what Beijing-born Ma’s firm, MAD, describes as a “philosophy of cooperation between humanity and nature.” At ground level, six separate plots are connected via man-made streams and footbridges.
Powerhouse Telemark, Porsgrunn, Norway
Bloomimages / Snøhetta
Located on the banks of the Porsgrunn River, the practice’s latest “energy-positive” project, Powerhouse Telemark, has been designed to “set a new standard for the construction of the buildings of tomorrow.”
Everything about the sleek structure, which is almost entirely coated in photovoltaic cells, has its carbon footprint in mind, from a diamond shape that maximizes the solar energy it captures, to the use of recycled materials from local demolition projects.
New Museum of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Peter Bennetts / Hassell / OMA
In designing a museum on a site littered with historic buildings, architecture firms Hassell and OMA faced a delicate task: building a 21st-century museum while preserving the surrounding heritage.
The result is a striking contemporary creation that complements, interacts with and wraps around existing structures — some of which date back to the mid-19th century — producing an unlikely synergy of brick, glass and steel.
Perhaps the most striking feature is how the museum’s huge upper volume hangs dramatically over Hackett Hall, the State Library’s old reading room.
Grand Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt
Having said that, 2020 looks sure to be the year it finally does. As well as offering a permanent home to tens of thousands of archeological treasures, including the entire contents of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the 5.2-million-square-foot museum symbolizes efforts to repair the country’s tourism industry in the wake of the 2011 revolution.
The building’s glass-fronted design, first unveiled over 15 years ago, will offer sweeping panoramas of the Great Pyramids and Giza plateau.
Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Berlin, Germany
Günter Wicker / Flughafen Berlin
Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport is, perhaps, less anticipated for its design than for the fact it’s almost a decade late.
The terminal building, which sits between two parallel runways, was designed to represent the region’s architectural heritage. Official press materials cite the influence of 19th-century Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the celebrated Bauhaus art school.
Opus, Dubai, UAE
Laurian Ghinitoiu / Zaha Hadid Architects
More than three years after her death, Zaha Hadid continues to shape the world’s cities with her bold, curvilinear creations.
Opus, which was first proposed by the British-Iraqi architect in 2007, takes the form of a glass-fronted cube punctured with an asymmetric hole that appears to bulge at the seams. Yet, closer inspection reveals that the building is formed from two separate towers joined by a four-story atrium at its base and a footbridge connecting the upper floors.
1000 Trees, Shanghai, China
Qingyan Zhu / Heatherwick Studio
British designer Thomas Heatherwick has never been short of ambition. And now his seemingly farfetched vision of a tree-covered urban mountain has become a reality.
The 3.2-million-square foot development now occupies a huge stretch of riverside in Shanghai. Structural columns emerge from the structure’s mass to hold some of the plants and greenery alluded to in the project’s name, 1000 Trees.
More than a piece of architecture, this is, in Heatherwick Studio’s own words, “a piece of topography.”
M+ Museum, Hong Kong SAR, China
Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron / West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Set across a huge swathe of reclaimed land in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District has been more than 20 years in the making. And of the many theaters and cultural institutions set to eventually open in the development, none are more hotly anticipated than M+.
The museum is expected to have one of the Asian continent’s most impressive collections of contemporary visual art. Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron has built a visually arresting design to boot — a horizontal slab (containing exhibitions spaces) and a vertical one (housing everything else) conjoined into an upside-down “T.”
Although the building is set to complete within the next few months, it will be another nine to 12 months before its opened to the public. Nonetheless, it’s a major milestone for the long-awaited cultural quarter.
Singapore Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020, Dubai, UAE
Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
But perhaps the most ambitious idea is that of Singapore: to create an oasis in the Arabian desert.
Innovations to that end include solar-powered desalination systems for irrigation and a cantilevered roof to provide shade.