The year 2020 was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The construction industry was likewise affected by the measures taken to combat the pandemic. In many countries, construction sites were partially or completely closed, and tasks were carried out from home where possible.
However, architectural excellence by no means stopped. From the luxe to humble, public to private, the following 2020 architecture projects represent various budgets, functions, and scales worldwide. These top architecture projects of 2020 will provide a roadmap for innovation and creativity in 2021 and beyond.
1. A Kindergarten in Vietnam
This charming and low-budget pre-school project in Vietnam playfully integrates curves and shadows in its design.
In perfect harmony with its tropical landscapes, the kindergarten is enveloped by the rice fields surrounding it. This ongoing architectural performance of shadow display was designed by the Ho Chi Minh City-based Kientruc O Architects.
2. A Red Walking Trail in China
In the Chinese city of Chengdu, the architecture firm Powerhouse Company connected the two buildings of the same company in an unorthodox manner: A futuristic walking trail resembling an undulating red ribbon.
Named “Loop of Wisdom”, the walkway comprises bright red asphalt and clad with aluminum tiles — also red. Almost 700 meters long, the trail rises to form the roofs of the two structures like a roller coaster.
3. A Luxury Boutique in the US
The winner of Dezeen’s 2020 Design Awards in the large retail interior category was the new building designed for The Webster, a luxury fashion brand. Designed by Adjaye Associates, this top 2020 architecture project is in the heart of Los Angeles is a sculptural canvas that will act as a public space to exhibit multimedia art commissioned by the Webster. The design marries a pink Hollywood glamor with a hint of brutalism.
Pink felt like fashion, but I wanted to make something that was tough and gentle at the same time.Sir David Adjaye, founder and principal of Adjaye Associates
4. An Energy Center in England
In March 2020, an industrial building with a perforated red-metal pavilion started to warm homes in London, tapping into the underground’s waste heat. The first architecture project of its kind, Bunhill 2 Energy Centre (Cullinan Studio and McGurk Architects), could inspire others and provide a blueprint to de-carbonize our cities.
5. A Futuristic Hotel in the UAE
The building resembles a cube with an eroded center that appears as a curving eight-story void. Thanks to this innovative design, the hotel interiors remain uncluttered by supporting walls or columns. The Opus is the last building that was designed entirely by the late Zaha Hadid herself.
6. A Micro-City Within a Swiss Airport
2020 saw the opening of The Circle, Switzerland’s biggest commercial development to date. Yet, situated within the Zurich Airport, the boomerang-shaped complex couldn’t be farther from just an airport lounge. Designed by the architect Riken Yamamoto, The Circle is an ambitious micro-city to cater to the needs of a curious and modern traveler. The Circle shines as a business, art, lifestyle, and leisure center — but without much of an electricity bill thanks to its incorporation of the latest sustainability innovations.
7. A “Parasite House” in Ecuador
Designed by El Sindicato Arquitectura, this 12 square-meter house was among the winners of the ArchDaily’s Buildings of the 2020 contest in the house category. In dense urban centers of Latin America and beyond, Parasite House could pose a practical solution to housing problems.
The A-shaped micro-house is a top 2020 architecture project not despite, but because of its compactness. It’s meant for a low-income young person or a couple launching a life in the Ecuadorian capital Quito. Named a “Parasite House”, it’s proof that architecture is about grand ideas than grandness.
Outlook for 2021: Rising Construction Activity
In 2020, almost 80 percent of the architecture firms experienced project delays, and two-third were impacted by site closures. But through inspiring examples — such as hospitals built in six days — it also showed us the limitless possibilities of architecture to shape our futures. In addition to delayed projects, architectural firms were also busy finding ways that buildings could support the spread of the pandemic, such as touch-free access.
The COVID-19 pandemic has and will change the world, but no matter how the pandemic unfolds in 2021, the world will always need architectural creativity and big ideas.