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There’s all manner of bizarre, futuristic skyscrapers in the world. There’s the Gherkin in London, the twisting pretzel of the CCTV tower in Beijing, and the three-legged Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Now Vienna will get its own twisty bit of architecture: the Turm mit Taille building—which translates literally into “tower with waist”—next to the city’s Gasometers. Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV designed the building for a competition held by the development corporation BAI.
MVRDV won because they cleverly worked around a set of building regulations that, for a development company with sights set on a mixed-use skyscraper that includes office space, housing, retail, and restaurants, would have created major headaches. The Gasometers are four repurposed gas tanks that anchor a neighborhood on the up and up. Because its a site for urban regeneration, the city imposed rules against building anything higher than 75 meters (about 250 feet), to prevent the area from become an overdeveloped concrete jungle with no natural sunlight.
The Turm mit Taille is 110 meters high, and gets away with it because 10 of its lower floors are twisted around like life-sized Jenga blocks. This parametric stacking allows sunlight to hit the building’s shorter neighbors from several angles, so the building only casts shadows for two hours each day—well within bounds for the city’s regulations. Because this cuts down on usable square footage in the “waist” of the building, the rest of the tower is drop dead simple: in the remaining 20 floors, 80 percent of the space is “column free,” so that it’s more open and flexible, and façades will have French doors that make natural ventilation possible.