In 1884, the world’s first skyscraper was completed. Designed by William Le Baron Jenney, the Home Insurance Building in Chicago was only 10 storeys tall, but its innovative steel frame transformed cosmopolitan architecture forever. In those days, urban expansion was driven upward by increasing real-estate values in land-poor areas such as downtown Chicago and Manhattan. Today, however, high-rises have taken on a more symbolic standing as each country races to construct the loftiest structure in existence. Naturally, the allure of the penthouse has risen with the buildings. After all, is there any greater status symbol than occupying the uppermost floors of one of the pinnacles of human enterprise?
Perched 72 storeys above the streets of New York is one of the most opulent, art-filled aeries in all of Manhattan. Designed by Eran Chen of ODA-Architecture, the magnificent duplex enjoys unfettered views of the Hudson River on one side and Midtown monuments in miniature – including the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building – on the other. What’s most incredible about the space, however, isn’t the jaw-dropping vistas that draw the eyes out, but the awe-inspiring artworks that entice them back in.
There are lofts that commit to austere interiors to great effect, including this Norm Architects-designed penthouse that sits atop one of the few high-rise buildings in Copenhagen’s Frederiksberg neighbourhood. The striking penthouse is a realisation of the clients' dream of a home free from physical and psychological distraction. From the white resin floor to the matt-black room divider, the spectacular space is an exercise in contrast and minimalism.
Madrid design company Sota&Co and Surabaya-based 3D visualisation studio 2G Studio have imagined the ultimate dream loft for the Spanish capital, that's flooded with light and boasts spectacular perspectives across the city. The designers focused on bringing a sense of spirit into the space, while at the same time maintaining its elegance and openness. To achieve this, they employed a high-contrast palette ranging from brilliant whites to dark tones across a range of materials.
Conceptualised by Shanghai-based Kokaistudios, House of the Tree in Shenzhen rewrites the rules of urban loft living in China by taking the topmost two floors of a high-rise condominium and transforming them into one duplex penthouse. The tree from which the residence takes its name occupies centre stage, planted within a double-height glass atrium that awards views of the city’s fast-evolving skyline and around which the rest of the apartment seems to emerge.
This article originally appeared in Home Journal.