The unveiling of the world’s tallest twisted tower in Dubai highlights the growing trend toward twisted forms in skyscraper architecture.

The latest milestone in twisted architectural marvel comes through the inauguration of Cayan Tower in Dubai. Previously known as the Infinity tower, Cayan is an 80-storey residential skyscraper that twists 90 degrees from top to bottom.

The tower was inspired by the structure of human DNA and features open space architecture concepts, removing the need for any pillars within the building.

Designed by Skidmore Owings & Merill LLP (SOM), the firm who designed the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, the architecture and extreme engineering behind Cayan Tower took eight years to complete.

“One of the things that interests me in terms of design is sculptural form,” says SOM design director Ross Wimer, FAIA. “We’re really developing forms for buildings that are complex and dynamic. That is an emerging trend in tall buildings—buildings that you can mould in a more flexible way.”

Cayan Tower has added to a dominant Dubai skyline that already boasts soaring architectural heights and world firsts. Along with being home to the 829-metre Burj Khalifa, the city is also home to the world’s tallest residential tower – the 413-metre Princess Tower – and the 355-metre twin towers of the JW Mariott Marquis, the world’s tallest hotel.

Turning Torso

Turning Torso, Sweden

One of the major benefits of twisted structures is that they greatly reduce wind forces on buildings by “confusing the wind in a way that wind forces cannot organise themselves,” says SOM.

The residents in Cayan Tower’s 570 luxury apartments will benefit from the tower’s rotating function, which will offer changing views of its prestigious marina location.

“The lower portion of the tower is oriented toward the exciting waterfront promenade of Dubai Marina, while the upper floors are rotated to face the Gulf,” says Wimer.

The world’s first twisting tower has already drawn a strong response, with over 80 per cent of apartments already sold.

“In a city like Dubai with sophisticated world-class developments, Cayan wanted to develop a project to stay within this space, and provide a remarkable lifestyle development with these characteristics to the Dubai skyline,” Cayan Group president and chairman Ahmed Alhatti said.

While holding the title for the world’s tallest twisting tower is notable, Cayan Tower isn’t the first to exercise this type of design and engineering. Turning Torso, a 190-metre concrete and steel building in Malmo Sweden, is rumored to be the first twisted skyscraper.

Completed in 2005 by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, Turning Torso features a series of nine five-storey pentagons in the topmost part of the building that twist and rise 90 degrees clockwise.

Inspired by a human body in movement, each pentagon shape rotates around a vertical core which is supported by an exterior steel framework.

CityLife Milano Masterplan

Artists Impression, CityLife Milano Masterplan

Like Cayan, the twisted structure minimises wind forces and was built through the application of a double-curved glass façade. Turning Torso also secures the recognition for the tallest skyscraper in Sweden, the tallest building in Scandinavia and third tallest residential building in Europe, housing 147 luxury apartments.

Cayan and Turning Torso join a lengthy list of twisted skyscrapers that continue to challenge conventional, boxed-form structures with another two spiral projects due to be completed soon in Europe.

In a trio design collaboration, Starachitect, Zaha Hadid has joined Arata Isozaki and Daniel Libeskind to design the “twisted” building in a series of three skyscrapers in Milan, Italy.

Located in the cit’s historic Fiera district, Torre Hadid (Lo Storto, The TwistedOne) will be a 170-metre tower with 44 floors.

LEED certified, the project will be part of a CityLife Milano master plan combining commercial and office space with the tower and a retail precinct.

With a a crystalline double skin façade that wraps around the building, the structure features a radical set of columns that will allow Torre Hadid to twist and rise slowly.

Evolution Tower

Evolution Tower, Moscow

In Moscow, the 52-floor Evolution Tower is almost complete and will house the city’s International Business Centre.

Each floor of the 249-metre high Evolution Tower will be in a consistent twist, with each floor rotating three degrees, with a total curve of 135 degrees once it reaches the top.

While sustainability is a primary care when it comes to tall buildings, architects around the world are choosing to challenge the structural rules in skyscraper design and continuing to embed innovative designs into skylines. The rise of the latest twisting skyscrapers encourage tall buildings to meet their environmental objectives along with suitable aesthetic and structural benefits of their urban locations.