Dezeen Magazine

Dezeen review of 2023

The biggest architecture and design stories of 2023

To kick off our review of 2023, Dezeen editor Tom Ravenscroft takes a look back at this year's top architecture and design stories.

Picture of insulation in a building framework by Jupiter Images illustrating story about Cambridge insulation study
Photo by Jupiter Images

January – Energy savings from home insulation "vanishing" after four years

The year began with news that a University of Cambridge research study had found that energy savings initially achieved by insulating UK homes appear to be cancelled out within a few years as users increase energy use.

Described by the researchers as a "rebound effect", the impact was observed by analysing the gas-use patterns of more than 55,000 homes across England and Wales.

Read more about the "vanishing" energy savings from insulation ›

Mukaab skyscraper in Riyadh
Image courtesy of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund

February – Saudi Arabia unveils giant cube-shaped supertall skyscraper for downtown Riyadh

In February, the Saudi Arabian government announced yet another giga project. Set to be built in Riyadh, the centrepiece of the Murabba downtown plan will be a 400-metre-high cube-shaped skyscraper named Mukaab.

The supertall skyscraper will be 400 metres high, making it the tallest building in the city, and 400 metres long on each side.

The project drew global attention as it was the latest super-sized scheme to be announced as part of Saudi Arabia's 2030 development plan, which also includes the controversial 170-kilometre-long city, The Line.

Read more about the cube-shaped supertall skyscraper ›

Black airless 3D-printed basketball by Wilson bouncing on a powder material
Photo courtesy of Wilson Sporting Goods Co

March – Wilson "reinvents the basketball" with airless 3D-printed lattice design

March saw sports equipment manufacturer Wilson unveil a prototype for a 3D-printed airless basketball that requires no inflation.

Instead, the design uses a see-through lattice structure with hexagonal holes that allow air to pass through it. The project's lead engineer, Nadine Lippa, told Dezeen she had been tasked with "reinventing the basketball".

Read more about the 3D-printed basketball ›

Kith Frank lloyd Wright
Photo courtesy of New Balance

April – New Balance trainer informed by Frank Lloyd Wright sketches

In April, New Balance released a trainer that was loosely based on sketches by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright for an unbuilt utopian city.

Called New Balance Made in USA 998 – Broadacre City, the trainer was designed by Kith founder Ronnie Fieg in collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

In response to the launch commenters said that the design had "nothing to do with Frank Lloyd Wright", while in an opinion piece on Dezeen Ryan Scavnicky said that the design undermined the profession.

"Dead architects' names are the perfect secret ingredient for selling loads of mediocre merch," he wrote.

Read more about New Balance's Frank Lloyd Wright trainers ›

Tilly Talbot AI designer
Image courtesy of Studio Snoop

May – Studio Snoop presents "world's first AI designer" at Milan design week

One of the year's biggest stories, AI, and the world's largest design week came together with Tilly Talbot unveiled at Milan design week. Billed as the "world's first AI designer", Tilly Talbot was created by Sydney-based Studio Snoop.

Later in the year the AI designer was one of the judges of a competition to design the artwork for Dezeen's AItopia series, which was won by British architect and designer Selina Yau.

Read more about the "world's first AI designer" ›

Tour Triangle render by Herzog & de Meuron
Image courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron

June – Paris reinstates skyscraper ban following Tour Triangle backlash

In June, skyscrapers were back in the news as Paris reimposed a height limit for new buildings.

Believed to be a reaction to the development of the controversial Tour Triangle tower by Swiss studio Herzog & de Meuron, the city announced that it will limit the height of all new buildings to 37 metres, or 12 storeys.

The ban reinstated a previous planning law that was introduced in 1977 following the the construction of 210-metre-high Tour Montparnasse tower by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis Hoym de Marien.

Read more about the Paris skyscraper ban ›

David Adjaye portrait
Photo by Ed Reeve

July – David Adjaye accused of sexual misconduct by three women

In July, the architectural world was rocked by the news that British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye had been accused of sexual assault and harassment.

The allegations, denied by Adjaye, were made by three former employees and detailed in an investigation by British newspaper the Financial Times.

Following the revelation, Adjaye stepped away from a number of roles, including being a design advocate for the mayor of London. He was also dropped as the architect from several high-profile projects including The Africa Institute in Sharjah and International Slavery Museum project in Liverpool.

Read more about the David Adjaye allegations ›

Brooklyn Tower distance at dusk
Photo by Max Touhey

August – Brooklyn's first supertall skyscraper reaches completion

August saw the completion of Brooklyn's first ever supertall skyscraper. Brooklyn Tower, designed by New York studio SHoP Architects, stands at 93 storeys and 325 metres tall.

Its intricate facade features distinctive blackened stainless cladding, while the base of the building meets the preserved historic Dimes Savings Bank.

Dezeen readers later voted Brooklyn Tower the world's best skyscraper from the previous year.

Read more about Brooklyn Tower ›

Image by Zaha Hadid Architects
Neom Trojena tower renders by Zaha Hadid revealed – SQUARE

September – Zaha Hadid Architects designs crystalline skyscraper above Neom ski resort

The Neom development in Saudi Arabia, which was rarely out of the news this year, was the most read story in September with the news that Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) was designing a crystalline skyscraper above the Trojena ski resort.

Set to be built on top of a mountain, the skyscraper is planned to be 300 metres high and will stand above the central lake at the centre of the resort, which is being masterplanned by German studio LAVA architects.

Shortly after Dezeen broke news about the tower, ZHA released renderings of the project.

In September we also rounded up everything you need to know about Saudi Arabia's 14 "giga projects", which include the controversial Neom development.

Read more about Zaha Hadid Architects' Neom skyscraper ›

The Spiral by BIG
Photo by Laurian Ghinițoiu

October – BIG's first supertall skyscraper reaches completion in New York

In yet more skyscraper news, October marked the completion of a distinctive skyscraper in New York by Danish studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) that captured readers' attention.

Named The Spiral, the 314-metre-high skyscraper was studio's first supertall skyscraper and is wrapped in a series of stepped terraces that rise up its exterior.

The tower was the latest in a series of interestingly shaped skyscrapers that have recently been completed by the studio.

Read more about BIG's first supertall skyscraper ›

Thomas Heatherwick
Photo by Raquel Diniz

November – Thomas Heatherwick selects 10 "humanised" buildings for Dezeen

British designer Thomas Heatherwick was at the centre of several of the most-read stories on Dezeen in November, with the announcement of his Humanise project along with a book of the same name.

The project calls for more architecture "with humanised qualities are able to hold your attention for the time it takes to pass by them".

In a BBC radio series Heatherwick took aim at the "cult of modernist architecture" and said that Le Corbusier was responsible for architecture's "global blandemic".

To further explain the project, he selected 10 "humanised" buildings for Dezeen that included work by Groupwork, Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura, Richard Rogers & Partners and Peter Barber Architects.

Read more about Heatherwick's "humanised" buildings ›

Dezeen review of 2023

2023 review

This article is part of Dezeen's roundup of the biggest and best news and projects in architecture, design, interior design and technology from 2023.