Wallpaper* Design Awards 2020: Best City Shortlist

The Wallpaper* Design Awards 2020: Best New City shortlist spotlights the ubran locations making an impact in design, architecture and contemporary culture. Explore the other categories here

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New York

New York City skyline

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The Big Apple has had a whirlwind of a year. Hudson Yards, the largest private real-estate development in American history, opened to mixed reviews, but there’s no doubting the audacity of Heatherwick Studio’s Vessel, with its seemingly endless stairways, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group’s The Shed, featuring a telescoping outer shell. The reopening of MoMA, following a $450m overhaul by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler, and the new Hunters Point Library, by Steven Holl Architects, were triumphs in civic architecture, while a new eight-storey flagship gallery for Pace, by Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture, and the renovation of Sotheby’s HQ, by OMA, proved a boon for the art market. Hospitality newcomers ranged from the Ace Hotel Group’s pared-back spin-off, Sister City, to fitness brand Equinox’s first hotel offering, by Rockwell Group and Joyce Wang, and the boom is set to continue in 2020 with the city’s first Aman and Six Senses hotels.

NEW ARCHITECTURE: MoMA renovation, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Solar Carve Tower, by Studio Gang
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The XI towers, by BIG; 130 William, by Adjaye Associates
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS: Equinox, by Rockwell Group and Joyce Wang; Times Square Edition, by Yabu Pushelberg; Tak Room, by David Collins Studio
CULTURAL DRAWS: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Museum; Whitney Museum; Cooper Hewitt; NYCxDesign; Armory Show



Beijing city landscape sunset

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This was a year of superlatives for Beijing, which welcomed Zaha Hadid Architects’ Daxing International Airport (at 700,000 sq m, the world’s largest airport terminal) and Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Citic Tower (at 528m, the highest in the city and the eighth highest worldwide). Also by ZHA, the Leeza Soho skyscraper features a gaping convex atrium that tests the limits of Beijing’s appetite for creative architectural forms. A jolt to the hospitality scene came in the form of the Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, with views of the Forbidden City, while UCCA, one of the Chinese capital’s earliest contemporary art institutions, was refurbished by OMA just in time for China’s largest-ever Picasso exhibition, which drew around 300,000 visitors. The M Woods art museum has unveiled a new venue in the Longfusi area, while upcoming art openings include the X Museum, designed by local studio Temp, and an outpost for Paris’ National Picasso Museum and Giacometti Foundation.

NEW ARCHITECTURE: Daxing Airport and Leeza Soho, both by Zaha Hadid Architects; Citic Tower, by Kohn Pedersen Fox
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Sihuiqiao Intelligent Grid Exchange Centre, by Benoy; Universal Studios
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS: Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, by Hirsch Bedner Associates and Adam Tihany; The Puxuan, by MQ Studio
CULTURAL DRAWS: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA); Guardian Art Center; Jingart art fair; Beijing Design Week


Doha city landscape

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A new National Museum, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, opened in 2019, with a breathtaking roof comprising 539 interlocking discs that mimic the crystalline form of the desert rose. It’s an apt metaphor for Doha’s cultural bloom and proof that Qatar remains vibrant in spite of an ongoing blockade. Outside the National Museum, a monumental installation of 114 fountain sculptures by Jean-Michel Othoniel dominates, while neighbouring institutions are putting on blockbuster shows by the likes of El Anatsui and Kaws. The city has witnessed a flurry of construction in advance of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with its first metro line and Zaha Hadid Architects’ 40,000-seat Al Janoub Stadium, inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats, both inaugurated in May. The retail industry also continues to welcome international imports, most notably a new Galeries Lafayette, spread across 15,000 sq m, following a Harvey Nichols flagship that opened in 2018.

NEW ARCHITECTURE: National Museum of Qatar, by Ateliers Jean Nouvel; Al Janoub Stadium, by Zaha Hadid Architects; Qatar National Library, by OMA
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Lusail Stadium, by Foster + Partners; Al Thumama Stadium, by Ibrahim M Jaidah; Hamad Airport expansion
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS: Mandarin Oriental Doha, by John McAslan & Partners and David Collins Studio; Al Messila, by Unii Design
CULTURAL DRAWS: Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Islamic Art


Oslo city skyline

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Oslo introduced a new visual identity this year, by local creative agency Creuna, encompassing all its municipal services and bolstering its reputation for vitality and efficiency. The Norwegian capital is launching three major institutions in 2020 as part of the Fjord City urban renewal project – a national museum of art, architecture and design; a new home for the Munch Museum; and city library Deichman Bjørvika. The inaugural Fjord Oslo light festival has drawn acclaim, but the best art experience is to be found about an hour to the north at Kistefos, which has just unveiled The Twist, a new gallery building like a twisted book stack, designed by BIG. Oslo also has a budding hospitality and retail scene, as embodied by the new Amerikalinjen hotel, converted from the former HQ of a transatlantic cruise line; Rest, a restaurant that transforms food waste into a fine dining experience; and a flagship store for fashion brand Holzweiler, by local stalwarts Snøhetta.

NEW ARCHITECTURE: Bjørvika Barcode, by Dark and A-Lab, with MVRDV
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Deichman Bjørvika, by Lund Hagem Architects and Atelier Oslo; National Museum, by Kleihues + Kleihues; Munch Museum, by Estudio Herreros; Oslo Aquarium, by Haptic Architects
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS: Amerikalinjen; Clarion Hotel Oslo; Rest; Hrimnir Ramen
CULTURAL DRAWS: Oslo Opera House; Astrup Fearnley Museum; Ekebergparken; Oslo Architecture Triennial


Seoul city landscape

(Image credit: TBC)

Long celebrated as a supplier of high-tech gadgetry and an unstoppable force of popular culture, Seoul is fast becoming an architectural destination too. David Chipperfield’s Amorepacific HQ and Morphosis’ Kolon One & Only Tower have drawn widespread acclaim, as has the work of local studios, such as Seoinn Design Group’s Saemoonan Church and Unsangdong’s HQ for fashion designer Lie Sangbong. The art scene is robust: the Dong-A Media Centre now sports a rainbow spectrum by Daniel Buren and Kukje Gallery’s upcoming flagship space houses a concept store by artists Elmgreen & Dragset. Café culture has taken a design savvy turn, led by Teo Yang Studio’s Café Aalto by Mealdo, and Schemata Architects’ Blue Bottle flagship. Meanwhile, high-end retail heartland Gangnam continues to dazzle with its openings, including a five-storey Louis Vuitton flagship, by Frank Gehry and Peter Marino, an Aesop store by Mlkk Studio, and a pop-up by Fendi and Gentle Monster.

NEW ARCHITECTURE: Saemoonan Church, by Seoinn Design Group; Amorepacific HQ, by David Chipperfield Architects; Kolon One & Only Tower, by Morphosis
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Parc 1, by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners; Acro Seoul Forest, by SMDP
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS: Ryse, by Michaelis Boyd and Integ; Andaz Gangnam, by Studio Piet Boon
CULTURAL DRAWS: Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism; Korea International Art Fair; Dongdaemun Design Plaza; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).