The Tokyo Skytree, Japan. Photo © Ash Jarvis

Towering creations

Skyscrapers are the ‘towers of tomorrow’. They point to the future – even those built half a century ago.

Piercing the sky, ever taller and more incredible, their heads in the clouds, skyscrapers hint at what is to come. They can be outlandish and ostentatious, are seldom subtle, and come in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes.

Here's a brief look at the 'real' towers of tomorrow.

 

View of tall glass sided tower looking upwards towards the sky
Louvred glass exterior of Hong Kong's International Commerce Center. Photo courtesy and © Paul Dings

 

Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks at the Museum of Sydney from 13 December 2014.

Find out more here

Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins ...

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, New York Herald Tribune 28 June 1959

Infinity tower

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
Colour photograph of a black and white skyscraper on river bank at sunset
The strikingly designed Infinity Tower looms above the Brisbane River. Photo © Sydney Living Museums

 

Swirling around one side of the building's exterior are striking ribbon-like lines, slicing upwards through horizontal bands of white.

 

THE BUILDING

249 METRES HIGH 
81 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY DBI DESIGN
COMPLETED 2014

Brisbane's Infinity Tower stands 249 metres tall and was completed in 2014. The residential skyscraper, on the edge of the CBD, is the tallest building in the city. Its 81 floors contain private and serviced apartments with sweeping panoramic views across the city's winding river and far beyond. Swirling around one side of the building's exterior are striking ribbon-like lines, slicing upwards through horizontal bands of white. On the opposite side is a full-height section of black, graphically picked out with white vertical dashes. Slim and tall, almost circular, the tower is able to deflect the powerful storms and gusty winds that regularly batter this sub-tropical region. 
 


THE MODEL

1245 millimetres
103 hours to build
​6600 bricks

It sounds strange but the Infinity Tower is covered in SNOT (a well-used LEGO term meaning "studs not on top"). You'd never guess, but the tower is actually built sideways so we could get those long, narrow, vertical lines and a smooth cylindrical shape overall.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

Q1

Gold Coast, AUSTRALIA

Colour photo of brightly lit skyscraper with blade-like sculpture and edge of palm tree

The Gold Coast's glittering Q1 is Australia's tallest skyscraper. Photo © Adam Bolt

 

high above sand, surf and suntanned bodies, and the brash razzle-dazzle of Australia's premiere holiday town.

THE BUILDING

323 METRES HIGH 
78 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY sunland design group & innovarchi
COMPLETED 2005

At 323 metres, Q1 is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Completed in 2005, this residential tower looms high above sand, surf and suntanned bodies, and the brash razzle-dazzle of Australia's premiere holiday destination, the Gold Coast. It was inspired by two national treasures, the Sydney Opera House and Sydney 2000 Olympic torch, evident in its tapered shape and transparent steel crown. It boasts 1000 kilometres of lift cabling that could stretch from the Gold Coast to Sydney, and an illuminated crown that can be seen 200 kilometres away. 
 


THE MODEL

1615 millimetres
82 hours to build
​11,950 bricks

It's probably one of the better looking models - for me, the colour scheme really pops. A combination of dark blue, mid blue and white makes the Q1 sparkle like a jewel. It's always hard to pick favourites, but this one comes pretty close.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

eureka tower

melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Colour photograph of gold-topped residential skyscraper surrounded by city at sunset.
The gold-topped Eureka Tower in Melbourne's CBD. Photo © John Gollings

 

Its crowning feature, a gleaming golden box-like hat, was inspired by the state's colonial gold rush ...

THE BUILDING

297 METRES HIGH 
91 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY Nonda Katsalidis, Fender Katsalidis Architects
COMPLETED 2006

Eureka Tower is a 297 metre high residential tower jutting high above Melbourne's Southbank promenade the muddy Yarra River and the CBD beyond. The tower's crowning feature, a gleaming golden box-like hat, was inspired by Victoria's 19th century gold rush - an event that continues to resonate in the state's identity today. Even its colours are based on the blue and white flag raised by rebellious miners fending off government troopers at the Eureka stockade in 1854. According to former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, the tower is ‘a building that would stand out in places like New York, Tokyo or Shanghai but here in Melbourne it's a golden part of our skyline.
 


THE MODEL

1485 millimetres
108 hours to build
​13,900 bricks

The great thing about Eureka Tower, apart from it being in Melbourne where I live, is that we got to use gold bricks, which are truly rare and precious in LEGO world. We had to hunt high and low for these. Luckily we had enough of the LEGO 50th anniversary sets in the workshop that included gold bricks. If only they were real gold!

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

central park tower

perth, AUSTRALIA
Colour photograph of a geometric skyscraper surrounded by green trees.
Central Park Tower remains the tallest skyscraper in Perth 20 years after its construction. Photo © twiga_swala

 

this stern, no-nonsense 'steel and glass' structure is formed by a huddle of triangular prisms ...

 

THE BUILDING

249 METRES HIGH 
51 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY Forbes & Fitzhardinge
COMPLETED 1992

Central Park Tower is a 249 metre high veteran of the Perth Skyline. It helped to revolutionise the modern floor plan, with an internal structure that rests on a strong central core, reducing the need for support columns and maximising office space. Completed in 1992, this stern, no-nonsense 'steel and glass' structure is formed by a huddle of triangular prisms, linked together by diagonal shafts of aluminium scaffolding. Labelled the ‘new heart’ of Perth at its opening, the Central Park Tower continues to evoke a sense of confidence, power and groundedness: a fitting symbol of the Western Australian economy. 


THE MODEL

1245 millimetres
72 hours to build
​5622 bricks

Central Park Tower was full of surprises. It looks simple, but it's got the craziest design that you can imagine, with the facades of the building angled in every direction like a diamond. Believe it or not, the mathematics and geometry of this building were mind-boggling.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

sydney tower

sydney, AUSTRALIA
Colour photograph of gold-topped tower surrounded by buildings.
The Sydney Tower back in 1982, when Sydneysiders knew it as the Centrepoint Tower. Photo John Joseph Dallinger © Matthew Dallinger

 

Laid end to end, the cables could reach all the way to New Zealand.

THE BUILDING

309 METRES HIGH 
19 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY donald crone
COMPLETED 1981

Sydney Tower is a landmark in anyone's book. At 309 metres tall, its shiny golden cylinder balanced nimbly on a wire-reinforced stem, has remained the most recognisable feature of the city's skyline for more than three decades. Its construction was as eccentric as its form. This involved hoisting the cylinder into place and assembling the shaft piece by piece from below, complete with prefabricated staircases, services and lift wells. Around the outside, an interlacing web of 56 steel cables were added to keep the top-heavy tower steady. Laid end to end, the wiring would reach all the way to New Zealand. For the outspoken designer and author Leslie Walford, a great admirer of Sydney Tower, its enduring value will be to stand out loud and proud, “... to remain indefinitely, built to last, to draw attention to the centre of the city.”
 


THE MODEL

2660 millimetres
64 hours to build
​7900 bricks

Getting to build in a slightly larger scale meant we could have more fun with the details. This gave us a rare opportunity to get some brave minifigs involved, doing the skywalk and having a good time on top of the Sydney Tower.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

crown sydney hotel

Barangaroo, sydney, AUSTRALIA
Digital rendering of a white tower on waterfront with city bridge in background
The Crown Sydney Hotel on the Darling Harbour waterfront. Artist's impression only, as at October 2014. Subject to planning approval and change. © Lend Lease

 

a new landmark on the Sydney skyline ...

 

THE BUILDING

275 METRES HIGH 
70 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY Wilkinson Eyre Architects
currently in planning

At 275 metres high, overlooking Darling Harbour, the Crown Sydney Hotel towers high above the newly developed Barangaroo peninsula. The sleek and shimmering structure will be Australia’s first 6-star resort, forming a new landmark on the Sydney skyline, rising high above the most ambitious commercial development the city has ever seen. The designers of the hotel are the London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
 


THE MODEL

1375 millimetres
150 hours to build
​25,000 bricks

Here's another crazily unique shape. It's tall and bulges at the middle and is divided into wings that look like pointed petals from above. Once again, our ability to sculpt gentle curves and create colours was pushed to the limit and once again we're working with a tower that's still on the drawing board.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

international towers sydney

BARANGAROO, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Digital rendering of three oval shaped towers on waterfront with city in background

International Towers Sydney. Artists impression only, as at October 2014. Subject to planning approval and change at the discretion of Lend Lease. © Lend Lease

 

An estimated 23,000 people will work in the towers each day.

 

THE BUILDINGS

tower 1: 219 METRES HIGH 
49 STOREYS 
tower 2: 180 METRES HIGH 
42 STOREYS 
tower 3: 170 METRES HIGH 
39 STOREYS
designed by ROGERS STIRK HARBOUR + PARTNERS PLANNED FOR COMPLETION 2015

The International Towers Sydney are a distinctive trio of oval-shaped office buildings, clustered at the southern end of the Barangaroo redevelopment. While their exteriors match in detail and form, they vary in colour from a golden ochre and radiant silver through to a glowing red. Rooftop gardens, water recycling, a football field of solar panels and a series of 90,000 litre water storage tanks also make these glittering towers sustainable. Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners architecture firm, they are set for completion in 2016. An estimated 23,000 people will work in the towers each day.
 


THE MODELS

1095, 900, 850 millimetres
80, 75, 70 hours to build
8700, 7600, 6900 bricks

Designs for the three residential towers are still on the drawing board, so that meant we could have some fun with a busy LEGO® construction site humming with minifig activity.’

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

one sydney harbour

barangaroo, sydney, AUSTRALIA
Digital rendering of two glass towers on water front with city in background
One Sydney Harbour, a trio of apartment towers soon to rise in Sydney's Barangaroo precinct. Artists impression only, as at October 2014. Subject to planning approval and change at the discretion of Lend Lease. © Lend Lease

 

Expect to move in around 2022.

 

THE BUILDING

coming soon, stay tuned

These three residential towers, situated in the heart of the Barangaroo restaurant and retail precinct, are still in the planning stage. According to development firm Lend Lease, the buildings will offer carbon neutral living, with water conservation technologies and light, airy spaces. Expect to move in around 2022.
 


THE MODEL

coming soon, stay tuned

Designs for the three residential towers are still on the drawing board, so that meant we could have some fun with a busy LEGO® construction site humming with minifig activity.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

taipei 101

taipei, taiwan
Colour photograph of skyscraper at sunset with city below
Taipei 101, the world's first building to reach half a kilometre in height. Photo © Daniel M Shih

 

... familiar and endearing shapes of bamboo, oriental pagodas and the ever-present noodle box.

THE BUILDING

509 METRES HIGH 
101 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY C. Y. Lee & Partners
COMPLETED 2004

Taipei 101 is an engineering marvel. At 509 metres high, it was the first building to break the half-kilometre mark. Among other breakthroughs including rocket-fast lifts and flexible columns, the skyscraper contains the world’s first pendulum damper. This huge hanging weight, descending downwards through the building's core, counteracts the sway of earthquakes and typhoons that commonly rock the city. It might look other worldly as it dwarfs the surrounding cityscape, but Taipei 101 borrows heavily from Taiwan's past, present, and future, incorporating familiar and endearing shapes of bamboo, oriental pagodas and the ever-present noodle box.
 


THE MODEL

2545 millimetres
80 hours to build
​18,600 bricks

The real trick about Taipei 101 is its shapes, with eight noodle boxes stacked one on top of the other. While it looks square, everything's slightly cantered. For us it's all about patterns - they're the most important thing.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

marina bay sands

singapore

Colour photograph of architecturally eccentric building with three towers and floating deck

Marina Bay Sands is an architectural marvel on the Singapore waterfront. Photo © Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com

 

It may not be mega-tall, but it's certainly a game changer.

THE BUILDING

200 METRES HIGH 
55 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY moshe safdie architects
COMPLETED 2010

Marina Bay Sands stands 200 metres tall on Singapore waterfront. Resembling a six legged monster prowling the shoreline, this glittering resort, retail and entertainment complex holds the record for the most expensive building ever. An instant icon, stretching the limits of architecture and engineering, the Marina Bay Sands was designed by Moshe Safdie, who was also architect of Montreal's Habitat 67 and the acclaimed Yad Vasham Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. It features three supporting structures, each being a pair of inwardly sloping towers that come together to cradle a long, slightly bent, boat-like platform. This precariously balanced platform contains landscaped greenery and restaurants, along with a vast infinity pool. Incredibly, the water surface remains level because the entire 'Skypark' rests on an automated cradle that can adjust to even the slightest building movement from wind or earth tremors. For the Arup construction company, whose job was to build it, Marina Bay Sands was ‘the most difficult project … in the whole world’. It may not be mega-tall, but it's certainly a game changer.


THE MODEL

1000 millimetres
155 hours to build
​26,400 bricks

Marina Bay Sands has never been done in LEGO bricks at this scale and I can see why. Each supporting tower curves upwards like a banana. Some get thinner, others get thicker, some grow narrower, others grow wider. And then of course they all join in together. It proves what they say, "LEGO doesn't like curves"

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

petronas TWIN towerS

KUaLA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Black and white photograph of twin towers at night connected by a bridge
The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur find inspiration in the culturally rich city below. Photo © Michel Coutty

 

... the Petronas Twin Towers stack upwards in a series of interlocked circles and squares based on the traditional Islamic star motif known as the 'Rub el Hizb'.

THE BUILDING

452 METRES HIGH 
88 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY caesar pelli
COMPLETED 1996

The Petronas Twin Towers are not just one skyscraper, but two. Towering 452 metres high above Kuala Lumpur, they were once the tallest buildings in the world and still hold the record for the highest sky bridge. Designed by Caesar Pelli, an architect well known for building high, the Petronas Twin Towers stack upwards in a series of interlocked circles and squares based on the traditional Islamic star motif known as the 'Rub el Hizb'. While most skyscrapers are built from lightweight steel and glass, the twin towers were constructed from concrete, weighing the equivalent of 4000 jumbo jets. 
 


THE MODEL

2260 millimetres
360 hours to build
​82,200 bricks

Keen-eyed LEGO fans might see that we built this model upside down. To get the glass bricks looking clean and sharp we needed the studs facing downwards. It's not your "everyday" LEGO building and it's probably the craziest technique used in the whole project.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

tokyo skytree

tokyo, japan
Colour photo of white broadcasting tower against blue sky.
Japan's Tokyo Skytree, a sky-high broadcasting tower and tourist destination. Photo © Duncan Palmer Photography

 

... the tower is engineered to survive the forces of nature – and the occasional rampaging monster.

THE BUILDING

634 METRES HIGH 
29 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY nikken sekkei
COMPLETED 2012

The Tokyo Skytree towers 634 metres above the city’s ancient artisan district. Its distinctive colour ‘Skytree White’ references traditional craftsmanship and culture, blending Japan's past, present and future. Constructed from a tubular concrete shaft supporting two flying saucer observation decks, the tower is engineered to survive the forces of nature – and the occasional rampaging monster. With a distinctive name chosen from a huge international competition, the tower is also a popular tourist attraction, with hordes enjoying the dizzying city views from its eye watering look out deck. In a city famous for robots, sci-fi movies and visionary technology, it’s no surprise that Tokyo’s tallest building also beams TV and radio signals far and wide.
 


THE MODEL

3171 millimetres
191 hours to build
​19,200 bricks

The tallest building in the exhibition is also one of the craziest. For the lattice we developed a cool system of "jumper plates" and "hinged elements" to make the crisscross work properly, as well as allowing the shape to change from a triangle at the bottom to a circle at the top.

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

International commerce centre

hong kong
Blue hued skyscraper towers on city skyline.
The International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong. Photo © Wallace Lau

 

A cobalt coloured exterior is made up of louvred glass shingles that act like flaps on an aircraft wing ...

THE BUILDING

484 METRES HIGH 
118 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
COMPLETED 2010

The International Commerce Centre towers 484 metres high above Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. The skyscraper, designed by world-leading architects Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, was the winner in an international competition and houses luxury shopping, global finance and the world’s highest hotel. Keeping each level roughly square enabled the building to offer an enormous amount of floor space. However, the vertical surfaces of the building are deceptively complex, with upper facades tilted inwards, the middle areas parallel and the lower facades swooping outwards, with a long ski-jump like section jutting out into the carpark like a scaley dragons tail. A cobalt coloured exterior is made up of louvred glass shingles that act like flaps on an aircraft wing, deflecting winds that shake the structure from side to side.
 


THE MODEL

2420 millimetres
122 hours to build
​21,200 bricks

We thought this one would be simple but were sorely mistaken. Its vast hinged walls slope inwards and outwards and there's a notched channel down each side. What I'm mostt proud of is the intense colour we got from placing "trans blue" glass over a background of "earth blue" bricks. 

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

shanghai tower

Lujiazui, Shanghai, china

Colour photograph of huge skyscraper mid-construction.

Shanghai Tower, set to open in 2015, is the newest tower of tomorrow. Photo © Xu

 

... represents a new way of defining and creating cities.

THE BUILDING

632 METRES HIGH 
121 STOREYS 
​DESIGNED BY gensler
planned for completion 2015

Shanghai Tower, at a staggering 632 metres high, is the world’s second-tallest building. Designed as a busy main street standing upwards, this ‘vertical city’ is divided into nine blocks, with each containing shops, offices, apartments, entertainment venues and large atriums for simulated 'outdoor' living, complete with trees, walking trails and filtered air. The building's corkscrew form mimics the meandering Yangpu River nearby. It is also highly sustainable, with an engineered 120-degree twist that reduces the force of wind and a double-layer of insulating glass covering 1.4 million square feet. During construction the tower grew one storey every five days and had a work force of over 3000 builders. According to Arthur Gensler, whose architectural firm created the Shanghai Tower, it “represents a new way of defining and creating cities". Due for completion in 2015, it is the newest Tower of Tomorrow.
 


THE MODEL

3160 millimetres
185 hours to build
​104,800 bricks

It's basically a model with 80 seperate LEGO layers, each shaped like a guitar pick. Inside it's like a random stack of tin cans surrounded by trees and beams. Because the outer skin is transparent we had to create a lot of internal details as well. This building really did our heads in ...

Ryan McNaught, LEGO® certified professional

About the Author

smiling man seated on the back of a boat wearing cap and sunglasses with red ensign flag waving, with blue water and Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background, under blue sky.
Gary Crockett
Curator, Interpretation
Curatorial and Exhibitions
It was the dog‐eared world of Rouse Hill House, back in 1991, that inspired Gary Crockett to become a curator.
More From This Author

Recently added stories