The Shard in London has secured the top prize for the the world’s most renowned prize for high-rise architecture - the Emporis Skyscraper Award 2013.

This year’s winners unveiled an expert jury who recognised unconventional skyscrapers and celebrated clever aesthetics and sustainable innovation. Undulating facades, striking glass forms and curvaceous structures were all represented, while facades clad in green foliage, external energy efficient lighting and buildings that made their mark on city skylines were also highlighted.

The Shard, currently Western Europe’s tallest building, was selected for first prize from more than 300 skyscraper submissions from around the world. The award, which is now in its 14th year, is issued by Emporis, the international provider of building data. To qualify, skyscrapers had to be completed in 2013 and reach a height of at least 100 metres.

DC Tower

DC Tower 1’s undulating facade captured the jury’s attention

London’s winning mixed-use skyscraper rises 306 metres and was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano. The Shard crystallises the skyline with its sharp, angled glass facade.

“Construction of The Shard was complicated by the particularly tight site and therefore needed innovative planning. This mades the result all the more impressive: a skyscraper that is recognised immediately and which is already considered London’s new emblem,” the jury said.

On his website, Piano noted that “shards” of glass are designed to define the shape and visual quality of the tower, fragmenting the scale of the building and reflecting the light in unpredictable ways. Gaps between the glass shards provide natural ventilation to the building’s winter gardens.

According to Piano, the 72-storey skyscraper was also a response to the urban vision of London Mayor Ken Livingstone and his policy of encouraging high-density development at key transport nodes in London.

Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort

Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort: unconventioal skyscraper

Second place was awarded to DC Tower 1 in Vienna, Austria, designed by Dominique Perrault Architecture. As with The Shard, the skyscraper’s contrasting facade secured the win.

“Three mirror-smooth sides are broken by a craggy, jagged fourth that gives the building a strength of expression and sense of solidity, despite its slim stature,” Emporis said.

According to the architects, the facade’s folds give DC Tower 1 a malleability which constantly adapts to the light, a reflection or an event. They said its shimmering undulated facade is a prominent part of the Vienna skyline; it now holds the title of Austria’s tallest building at 250 metres.

“The skyscraper also impressed due to its comprehensive sustainability concept, including photovoltaics to generate energy, local plants with low water requirements in the green areas of the building, and electric car chargers to save on CO2 emissions,” Emporis said.

China’s unconventional Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort by MAD architects took third place. The hotel skyscraper reaches 102 metres and echoes the shape of a giant ring. This enables all rooms to have balconies and views and absorb daylight from all directions.

One Central Park East

One Central Park (East Tower), Sydney features vertical gardens over 34 storeys

An impressive 19,000 LED lights illuminate the facade at night, imposing reflections on the building of it’s Lake Tai location.

An Australian building earned fifth place – the One Central Park (East Tower) residential skyscraper by Ateliers Jean Nouvel and PTW Architects. The building was recognised by jurors for its vertical gardens on each floor, giving residents the impression of living in a treehouse in the midst of the spacious park which surrounds the structure. Rising 117 metres, the building serves as a canvas for Yann Kersalé’s LED art installation at night.

Absolute Towers Canada

Last year’s winner, Absolute Towers Canada

“The eastern tower features a dramatic light reflector installation, extending from the upper levels on a grand cantilever,” PTW Architects said on its website. “The reflected light system incorporates an innovative system of both fixed and motorized mirrored panels, designed to capture sunlight and redirect it into the retail atrium and onto the landscaped terraces.”

“Planter boxes, vertical vines and green walls incorporated into the facade will wrap the towers in plant life, extending the central parkland upward, growing around the building’s façade.”

Australia last ranked on Emporis’ global list in 2006, when Gold Coast’s The Wave and Melbourne’s renowned 298-metre tall Eureka Tower were named.

While an array of countries were represented in this year’s awards, skyscraper-heavy New York and other urban US cities did not make the list.

emporis skyscraper award 2013

Emporis Skyscraper Award 2013 (click to view full version)

Last year’s top prize went to the curvaceous Absolute World Towers in Canada, while Frank Gehry’s stainless steel skyscraper marvel New York by Gehry secured top honours the year before.