15.03.2024

View From the Top: The World’s Best Penthouses

There’s nothing that says luxury more than pressing your personal key code into an elevator and stepping into your private penthouse. Expansive views, lavish design, no upstairs neighbour to spoil the calm and large terraces filled with plants and swimming pools are all part of the — usually, rather pricey — package when you snap up a property’s uppermost apartment; here, in the lush cocoon of a penthouse, your top-of-the-world feel is pretty much guaranteed.

Life at the very top of a building has been synonymous with glamour ever since the concept of the penthouse started becoming popular in New York during the 1920s. The penthouse at the Woolworth Building (once the world’s tallest) and famous publisher Conde Nast’s own duplex at the top of 1040 Park Avenue (along with the legendary parties) are notable examples of the decadence and lavishness that came to be associated with penthouse living.

Europe’s Penthouses

Penthouses – Riviera Tower

“Forward looking to 2026 when the project is due to be completed, designed by award-winning firm Foster+Partners, the Riviera Tower stands as an architectural centerpiece of The Ellinikon project – the place where Athenian energy meets the tranquil waterways of the Aegean Sea. With 170 residences across 50 floors, 200m above sea level, the tower will be Greece’s first skyscraper and the tallest residential building in the Mediterranean. All residences will provide an unobstructed panoramic sea view and feature top-quality, environmentally friendly amenities that meet all the specifications of a smart and bioclimatic building.

The Rivera Tower offers exclusive Mediterranean living at its finest. Generous balconies, verdant gardens and private pools merge effortlessly with the open-plan comfort of the homes within. Residents can enjoy stunning views of the coast, the park and mountains setting a new benchmark for luxury lifestyle by the sea.

Upon completion, the tower will be certified at LEED Gold level and include a selection of materials with a reduced environmental footprint, allowing for the minimization of energy consumption and embodied carbon. The project is a next-generation example of biophilic design – an approach that harmonizes the built environment and the natural landscape. At the Riviera Tower, that means a holistic approach to sustainable resources, low-embodied and operational strategy, and symbiosis with the unique ecology of our Mediterranean landscape.

The Ellinikon’s coastal front will be revitalized as the jewel of the Athenian Riviera. With a 310-birth marina, luxurious hotels and world-class facilities, it is destined to become the go-to destination for yacht owners.”

To the north-west, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the architects behind London’s most expensive apartments at One Hyde Park, completed One Monte Carlo in 2019, a set of luxurious residences in Monaco. A stone’s throw from the city’s world-famous casino, the project comprises a series of glimmering, mixed-use glass pavilions, including everything from retail and hospitality units, to office, conference facilities and an art gallery, next to its top-of-the-market residential offering. Again, connecting to the locale was key in the design. “The design of the organically shaped balconies reflect the spirit, elegance and craftsmanship of the ‘Belle Époque’ while the lacquered wood handrails are inspired by the pristine finish of a Riva boat. Each penthouse has a yacht-style roof terrace with an individually themed garden and infinity pool offering views across Place du Casino, the Mediterranean and the Maritime Alps,” explained Torsten Burkhardt, associate partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

Penthouses – One Monte Carlo

One Monte Carlo’s Penthouse views

Penthouses – Battersea 1

London may not be able to boast the sunny days of the Côte d’Azur, but its penthouse selection can beat most, offering some of the most highly sought-after properties in the world. Interior luxury here is boosted by location, location, location, while a distinctive architectural character with a touch of London’s rich history wins bonus points for a development.

One of the hottest properties on the market is the re-imagined Battersea Power Station: “a landmark for British architecture”, according to Jim Eyre, director at lead architects WilkinsonEyre. The design includes retail and commercial spaces and also a series of penthouses — a particularly impressive one will be sitting in between the development’s instantly recognisable, recently restored chimneys.

While the design and facilities here are without dispute, the real draw is living at the very top of one of the most iconic buildings in the British capital. A famous address goes a long way, which only underlines the fact that while luxury services and high-end interiors are essential, the ultimate contemporary penthouse design needs to be site-specific, drawing on the power of its surroundings to truly make its mark.

Penthouses – Battersea 2

Penthouses - 432 Park Avenue

432 Park Avenue

USA’s Penthouses

Today, in New York’s iconic skyline, everybody who is anybody in the architecture world has designed a skyscraper and, therefore, a penthouse. Are you after restrained, grown-up luxury? Then 432 Park Avenue’s penthouse, by Rafael Viñoly with interiors by Kelly Behun, is the one for you. If it’s sweeping curves and views of the High Line you’d like, look no further than the penthouse at 520 West 28th by Zaha Hadid Architects. For a more historical approach, 100 Barclay’s penthouse in an Art Deco building could be just the thing. What all New York penthouses have in common, though, is the extravagance in design and amenities that signifies true opulence in the city that never sleeps. Anything a residential building may offer, its penthouse has it tenfold, from huge spaces and numerous bedrooms, to personalised amenities and exclusive design details by world-class creatives of the highest calibre.

New York is not without competition, though. A little further south, Miami is fast becoming a rival to be reckoned with in the penthouse game. Year-round sunshine, a healthy local economy and a thriving cultural scene have boosted the property market here, with big-name architects such as Herzog & De Meuron, OMA and Zaha Hadid all gaining prestigious commissions in town. Penthouses represent the ultimate indulgence here, too, but in Florida, this means connecting with the outdoors and the region’s striking waterfront nature. Living several storeys above ground need not preclude this; if anything, architects here know the importance of bringing the outside in.

 

Penthouses - Eighty Seven Park on Miami Beach

Eighty Seven Park on Miami Beach

 

Penthouses - Eighty Seven Park on Miami Beach 2

 

Eighty Seven Park on Miami Beach was designed by Italian master Renzo Piano and its penthouse is set to stand out through both its price and modern design, which includes everything from a personal hammam to interiors by Hermès favourites RDAI — and above all it remains rooted to its context. “This building belongs to nature,” said the architects. “The idea of the infiniteness of the sea — this is what you breathe in Miami. The building levitates on the park and sitting on the sand you’re right in the middle of it — there’s nothing beyond the ocean.” Julia Capp, RDAI design director added: “Its incredible location and views allow the light to gently infuse the interior and maintain contact with the exterior.”

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