The Story Behind Malmo’s Turning Torso, the World’s First Twisting Tower

Malmö's Turning Torso |© alanandanders / Flickr
Malmö's Turning Torso |© alanandanders / Flickr
Photo of Judi Lembke
19 April 2017

It’s not just the tallest building in Sweden, it’s the tallest building in the Nordic countries, and Malmö’s award-winning Turning Torso, the first in a wave of “twisting” buildings, has quite the story behind it. When it opened in August 2005, it was also the highest residential building in the European Union and the second tallest in Europe as a whole.

Bottom Floor of Turning Torso / Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Turning Torso was inspired by a sculpture called Twisting Torso, which was made entirely from white marble by Santiago Calatrava, the engineer, architect, and sculptor who also designed the Turning Torso.

The idea to create this incredible structure came at a time when Malmö was undergoing a renaissance, with local politicians eager to redevelop the former industrial stronghold of the city’s west, with a vision towards making the decaying area a hallmark of urban renewal, featuring homes, businesses, culture, and entertainment. They wanted something that had power and would make an impact not just in the region but around the world.

Turning Torso Malmö / Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons

They got what they were looking for in the Turning Torso. Made up of asymmetrical shapes, the skyscraper is divided into nine segments of five-story pentagons, which rotate 90 degrees as the height increases. A steel exoskeleton connects the units, and it ultimately stands at 190 meters and 57 stories high.

The first segments of the Turning Torso are filled with offices, while the following six segments offer 147 luxury flats that are kitted out with the finest of amenities. Each floor has one to five apartments.

Turning Torso / Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Turning Torso is also recognized for its pioneering sustainable design, as well as for its execution of sustainable industry standards. One hundred percent of the energy consumed in the building is renewable, coming from hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal sources. Residents can make informed decisions regarding their energy consumption with electricity consumption meters installed in each unit, all of which also include an organic waste disposal unit, which converts all waste material into energy.

Sweden's tallest skyscraper | ©Mirko Junge/ Flickr

In the end, the Turning Torso helped spur Malmö’s momentum and is a point of pride for city residents as they continue to develop into one of the most vibrant and unique cities in Europe.

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