8 tallest buildings in Europe you must know about

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The skyline of Europe is a largely mesmerizing canvas of low-rise structures with a sprinkling of skyscrapers. The buildings in Europe depict a strong resemblance to the socio-cultural and architectural legacy of the continent. The attention to detail, building proportions, selection of materials, and construction techniques- all represent a sense of affinity towards the vernacular principles of design and building practices. Therefore, tall buildings are a recent development in Europe compared to the rest of the world.

The first tall building to be constructed in Europe was The Witte Huis in Rotterdam, built-in 1898. However, during the rapid urbanization of Brussels in the 1960s and 1970s, Europe witnessed massive skyscraper construction. The Europeans labeled This period ” Brusselization ” to demarcate a phase when the continent began to lose its architectural character. So, while Europe saw a dip in the number of high-rises in the late 20th century, the construction of skyscrapers in the continent gained impetus in the early 2000s.

Today, Europe is home to some of the most artistically designed skyscrapers globally. Most of these buildings are located in Russia, which is emerging as the hub for tall buildings in the European subcontinent. So, let’s explore their architectural and engineering details below.

1. Lakhta Center


Height: 462 meters
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia

The Lakhta Center is an 87-story skyscraper built as a mixed-use development. The building houses office spaces, co-working areas, a sports center, conferencing spaces, an exhibition hall, and a children’s science center. Designed by the British architectural firm RMJM (Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall), this structure is conceptualized in the neo-futuristic architectural style.

The building has a distinctive tapering form that tapers towards its pinnacle. It has a steel framework and glass-cladded facade that gives the appearance of a modern minimalistic aesthetic. The project, managed by AECOM, has green and energy-saving technologies and is recognized with a LEED platinum certification.

2. The Shard

Vaan Photography

Height: 310 meters
Location: London, United Kingdom

Completed in 2012, the Shard is one of architect Renzo Piano’s most unique works. The structure was developed in collaboration with the Sellar Property Group, WSP Global, and Robert Bird Group. The pyramid-shaped tower has 95 floors, out of which 72 are habitable. The core of the building is made of reinforced concrete, while the outer structure consists of a steel framework, supporting the shiny glass facade. This hybrid structural model provides both strength and flexibility to the building for withstanding wind and lateral loads.

The Shard offers panoramic views of London from its viewing platforms, making it a premium real estate development in the heart of the city.

3. Varso Tower

Aaron Hargreaves

Height: 310 meters
Location: Warsaw, Poland

Conceptualized as a part of the Varso Place Development, the Varso Tower houses 53 floors. The building was designed by Foster + Partners and developed by HB Reavis. The tower has a slender and dynamic design, featuring a faceted glass exterior that imparts a sense of transparency to the building interiors. The structure has a distinctive crown element on the top, shaped like a spire that acts as a landmark element for the urban skyline.

The skyscraper is a transitional space, drawing people through the building towards the public plaza on its western end. The building acts like a space for pause where people can rejuvenate and reconnect with each other.

4. Federation Tower


Height: 374 meters
Location: Moscow, Russia

The Federation Tower is a tall structure comprising two skyscrapers, making up an architectural attraction at the Moscow International Business Centre. The two towers are called the Tower East or “Vostok” and Tower West or “Zapad” and have 95 floors and 62 floors respectively. Completed in 2017, the tower was designed by Sergei Tchoban and Peter Schweger in collaboration with the development partner Mirax Group.

The skyscraper’s design is based on the concept of a vertical city, which was first released in Moscow in the history of modern Russia. The tower has a composite structural system with a RCC core, supported by a steel and glass curtain wall.

5. Mercury City Tower


Height: 338 meters
Location: Moscow, Russia

The Mercury City Tower is a mixed-use skyscraper that accommodates houses, offices, a fitness center, and retail stores. Competed in 2013, the tower was designed as a collaborative venture between M.M. Posokhin, Frank Williams and Associates, and G.L. Sirota. A distinctive architectural feature of the building is its reflective bronze-tinted facade that gives the appearance of embracing sunlight.

The unique structural form of the building resembles characteristics of the Structural Expressionist design style. The building features sustainable elements such as regulated energy usage, ambient temperatures, and hot water distribution systems.

4. OKO

Height: 352 meters
Location: Moscow, Russia

OKO is an abbreviation for Ob’yedinonnyye Kristallom Osnovaniya which literally means Foundations Bound by a Crystal. This skyscraper is a complex structure comprising two North and South towers. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed the tower and developed it in association with the Capital Group. The facade of the skyscraper is connected with diagonal folds and linked by a faceted base that gives a shard effect to the building.

Additionally, the tower has canted folds that allow each other to recede from one another as they rise. The building houses a landscaped plaza on the ground floor that creates a sheltered private garden guiding occupants to separate lobbies of the individual tower. This space also serves as a room for respite for the pedestrians to take a beat.

5. Eurasia Tower

Height: 309 meters
Location: Moscow, Russia

Eurasia, also known as Steel Peak is a mixed-use skyscraper completed in 2014. The building is designed by Swanke Hayden Connell Architects and is developed by CJSC Techinvest and MOS City Group. The tower is designed as a twin skyscraper with 30 floors in the first tier and 37 in the second one. It has a curving glass curtain wall tower with broad facades. The structural design of Eurasia allows for column-free interior spaces which makes it ideal for office, retail, and other commercial units. The exterior of the building is made of closely spaced steel columns affixed on a belt truss that transfers the load to the base of the tower.

6. City of Capitals

Height: 301 meters
Location: Moscow, Russia

The City of Capitals is a mixed-use building composed of two adjoining skyscrapers. These buildings are named after two historical capitals of Russia, namely Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Completed in 2008 and 2009, respectively, the skyscraper follows the deconstructivist style of architecture. Designed by NBBJ and developed by the capital group, the towers are enclosed in a unitized panel system with four-sided structural silicone glazing. The skyscraper’s design seeks inspiration from Vladimir Tatlin’s “Corner Counter Relief,” which uses the concept of offset rotation. This principle is used in the tower to showcase a dynamic departure from the stability of a square form.

In Conclusion, tall buildings in Europe are going through a phase of innovation in terms of materials, design styles, and construction techniques. A peculiar feature of weaving these skyscrapers together is their focus on sustainability. The focus on an integrated approach to design with a seamless blend of indoor and outdoor spaces is evident in Europe’s skyscrapers. As Europe attempts to seek a balance between its historical legacy and modern advancements through meaningful skyscraper design, architects around the world can use it as a case study for thoughtful urban developments.

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