Towers of Tech: the world's most futuristic buildings

We’ve come a long way from mud huts and mammoth-bone tents. Amy Frearson discovers the futuristic buildings that think they’re giant gadgets

Behold, some of the worlds greatest feats of architechture.

Here you'll find buildings trying to slow climate change, avoid increasing snowfall, retire the use of paper and turn smog into salt.

Obviously you won't be happy till Willy Wonka-esque horizontal glass elevators become a thing of reality, but these works from some of the world's most creative minds will have to do for now.

The eco warriors

One Central Park (Sydney, Australia) / centralparksydney.com

What’s the story? This twin-tower skyscraper by French architect Jean Nouvel is equipped with a heliostat system – a huge panel of motorised mirrors that track sunlight and reflect it into a street that would otherwise be in permanent shadow. It also boasts a remote-controlled irrigation system that allows over 1000 species of plants to grow without soil across the building’s walls.

Fact! When the sun goes down, the suspended mirrors transform into a canvas for an impressive LED light show by the renowned artist Yann Kersalé.

Agora Garden (Taipei, Taiwan due 2016) / vincent.callebaut.org

What’s the story? This twisted 20-storey marvel now under construction in Taiwan’s capital could be mistaken for a giant DNA strand. The double-helix construction isn’t just for show, though. It creates a cascade of balconies covered in vegetable gardens and fruit trees, so residents will be able to grow their own food and compost their waste.

Fact! A 1000m2 pergola of photovoltaic panels on the roof will generate enough energy to make it entirely self-sufficient.

ZEB Pilot House (Larvik, Norway) / snohetta.com

What’s the story? This house by architectural superstars Snøhetta not only generates enough electricity for itself – it has enough left over to fuel an electric car all year round. Its sloping roof is covered with solar panels and collectors that draw as much energy from the sun as possible, while energy wells in the ground supplement this with geothermal power.

Fact! The building is so well insulated that two radiators – one on each floor – are enough to heat every room.

Italy Pavilion, Expo 2015 (Milan, Italy due May 2015) / expo2015.org

What’s the story? Italy’s national pavilion at the upcoming Milan Expo has been designed by Italian studio Nemesi & Partners to clean the air around it, thanks to the smog-purifying cement covering its exterior. Made from recycled aggregates, including scraps of Carrara marble, the material can transform airborne pollutants into harmless salts.

Fact! Over three quarters of the special air-purifying cement is itself made from recycled materials.

The survivalist

Halley VI Research Station (Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica) / hbarchitects.co.uk

What’s the story? Imagine an environment where temperatures drop to as low as -56°C, the sun doesn’t rise for three months, and the icy ground below you can crack at any time. British architect Hugh Broughton was tasked with creating a building where at least 16 scientists can endure these conditions all year round. His response? A chain of heavy-duty modules that use hydraulic legs to climb up out of the snow.

Fact! As the ice shelf floats out towards the ocean, the modules can be lowered onto giant steel skis and towed by bulldozers to a safer inland location.