Spiral Architecture: 12 Swirling Building & Bridge Designs

Ubiquitous in nature and mathematics, spirals are beautiful to look at and provide a structure that’s strong and stable, so it’s no surprise that they turn up so often in architecture, too. Spiraling forms offer uninterrupted panoramas on observation towers, remove the obstacles of walls and floors in a creative interior, and enable unusual stacked configurations of living spaces in skyscrapers.

Evolver by Alice Studio

The spiraling viewing platform in Zermatt, Switzerland by Alice Studio fuses beautiful design with a function that enables uninterrupted panoramas of the surrounding landscape. It was constructed by a group of students from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and is made up of 24 wooden frames, with a tubular path offering a continuous 720-degree route to the top.

Arganzuela Footbridge

A spiraling footbridge in Madrid’s Parque de la Arganzuela by Dominique Perrault Architecture links neighborhoods on the right and left banks of the Manzanares River, opening up in the center to allow access to a new urban green space. Built for both pedestrians and cyclists, the bridge is made up of two interlocking metal spirals ‘wrapped by a metallic ribbon.’

Mobius Buddhist Temple

Based on a mobius strip, this Buddhist temple in Taichang, China integrates visual symbolism representing reincarnation with the basic design of the architecture interpreted as a path. Digital design and fabrication techniques enabled a building in which the entire shape is made up of two intertwined spirals, an ‘unstable’ configuration that places the beginning and ending of the worshipper’s path at the same point.

Mangal City Spiraling Skyscraper Pod

Envisioned as an ‘urban ecological system,’ Mangal City is a concept that explores spiraling towers made up of individual pods. taking its design cues from systems in nature, such as mangrove roots. Of the project, Chimera says “The mangrove plant and its collective the mangal, provide examples of social associative principles as well as structural capacities and hybrid responses to environmental and contextual conditions.”

Paviljoen Puur by Emma Architecten

A curving wall of timber shingles wraps around visitors as they ascend to the top of Paviljoen Puur, a visitor center by Dutch firm Emma Architecten. The spiral shape was inspired by the curves of the landscape. “We wanted anybody visiting the building to be puzzled about when it was built, and whether it is the future they’re looking at or the past,” said architect Marten De Jong. “To do this, the building had to have little or no reference to architectural elements. A window or a door usually depicts a specific age of architectural thinking, which would make it easy to pinpoint the year of its creation. Instead, the building comes forth from the landscape.”

Spiraling Shanghai

An undulating silver spiral meanders along the river valley of Shanghai, rising to accommodate the height of skyscrapers and then lower to the ground to offer views of the city from every angle. The ‘Sity’ project by Sonik Module rethinks architectural forms with an unexpected shape that’s earthquake resistant with maximum sunlight exposure, natural ventilation and its own means of renewable energy production.

Observation Tower on the River Mur

It’s not uncommon to see shapes like this in the concept stage, but they rarely make it to reality. This observation tower on the River Mur in Austria by Munich-based firm terrain:loenhart&mayr is part functional structure, part sculpture based on the shape of a double helix. A circular path ascends to the top, passing through various levels of the forest. The architects were inspired by a historical double spiral staircase in Austria’s Graz Castle, built around 1500.

Mode-Gakuen Spiral Towers

Japan’s shimmering Mode-Gakuen Spiral Towers house educational facilities for fashion design, computer programming and medical support in three different ‘wings.’ The spiral shape aids in ventilation and use of natural light, and was inspired by “the enthusiasm of students from three schools, twining and rising up to the sky then departing to the real world.”

Spiral Tower: Suburbia in the City

This ‘family-friendly’ skyscraper design aims to bring all of the perks of living in the suburbs into the city. Envisioned for the center of Berlin, the Spiral Tower by Philipp von Bock has housing units in a stepped design that enables each one to have a small outdoor space. Shared green spaces are also built right into the design.

Car Park Tower, Mozhao Studio

A public building providing access to the Hong Kong City Hall, a second-floor pedestrian system and to the streets, Mozhao Studio’s Alternative Car Park Tower design is meant to represent equal access for citizens. Cars are transported to the uppermost levels via spiral car-lifts in an automated process, so there’s no need for people to climb up and down stairs or wait for elevators.

Edgar Street Towers

A swirling tower designed for Manhattan straddles the street, with two ‘feet’ coming together into a single skyscraper. ‘Edgar Street Towers’ by Iwamoto Scott “responds to its immediate site context while establishing a strong relationship to the larger urban form of Manhattan. The towers’ design seeks to reinstate Edgar STreet as an east-west public way, reconnecting Greenwich and Washington streets. The space of this passageway through the building twists upwards, rising through the body of the tower, pinching at the mid level to allow for larger floorplates, and culminating at a rooftop sky lobby and civic space.”

Zurich Cocoon Building

The spiral design of the Cocoon in Zurich is most apparent on the inside, where a white ribbon undulates from the ground floor to the skylight on the uppermost level. The architects envisioned the design as a ‘communication landscape’ to eliminate the usual barriers of walls and floors, opening up the entire space.

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