ABU DHABI // Dubai might have the world's tallest building but Abu Dhabi is not to be outdone with its spiralling, leaning, undulating and spherical architecture.
The capital is attracting some of the world's finest architects to ease into post-recession property projects and create a skyline of note.
A Barcelona firm made headlines this year when its "Stairscraper" concept, designed specifically for Abu Dhabi, won the Total Housing Competition, held by the Storefront for Art and Architecture and Architizer in New York.
The residential structure of twisting stairs, designed by Nabito Arquitectura, features open parks and gardens on its wide steps. It may even include a water pumping system through the core of the structure that would draw from an underground water table to irrigate palm trees and plants.
"The concept is perfect for Abu Dhabi, which is aiming to become a green city," said Roberto Ferlito, one of the firm's founders.
The capital has already commissioned renowned architects to assist in the development of the cultural district on Saadiyat Island. Frank Gehry is designing the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim, Jean Nouvel has been brought in for an offshoot of the Louvre, and Foster & Partners is working on the Zayed National Museum.
In contrast to some other modern cities, Abu Dhabi had taken "time with building, had a better master plan for the city and a better quality of architecture for waterfront projects. I think Abu Dhabi will end up a much better-looking city," said Torquil McIntosh, the director of Sybarite, a UK architecture firm which has several projects in the capita.
From the farthest leaning tower to the highest suspended sky bridge, here are some of the most notable skyscrapers recently erected or under construction in Abu Dhabi:
Towers at Aldar Central Market
Designed by Foster & Partners, the three towers to rise from the new souq will include office, retail and hotel space. An 88-floor apartment building soaring 382 metres high will be the capital's tallest building.
The cluster of five curvy, layered buildings is slated to begin opening up this year. The development, which sits opposite Emirates Palace on the west side of the Corniche, boasts a large multilevel podium and will include a hotel, restaurants, offices, apartments, a shopping mall and a hypermarket in towers ranging from 53 to 77 floors.
The leaning tower, which is owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, was certified last year by Guinness World Records as the "world's furthest leaning man-made tower". It was built to lean 18 degrees, more than four times the incline of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Using in excess of 15,000 cubic metres of concrete reinforced with 10,000 tonnes of steel, the core of the building veers off centre before straightening out to support the weight of the higher floors.
The coin-shaped building on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway has been touted as "the world's first truly circular skyscraper". Constructed using a diagonal grid of steel, the building is covered with 3,000 glass panels.
The two towers on the Corniche are connected by a "sky bridge" 200 metres above the ground that developers are in the process of certifying as the highest in the world.
Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Tower
A vertical plane of glass and steel has been folded four times in this building's design, with one wing meant to point towards Mecca.
The 330-metre-high mixed-use tower being built on the Corniche will be constructed of dark granite and gold-coloured glass, and it is expected to be one of the capital's tallest buildings when it is completed.
The building under construction in the Gate District of Shams on Al Reem Island will also be among Abu Dhabi's tallest buildings, standing about 300 metres tall. A surrounding arc of residential buildings of tapered widths will be linked by a suspended crosspiece.
Regent Emirates Pearl
Two-hundred and fifty-five metres high, this cylindrical resort will be built with a 45-degree twist on its outer architectural layer.
It may only be 12 floors, but this wavy structure of green glazed glass stands to be recognised. The design is meant to provoke the image of undulating sea waves.