10 Architectural Projects Featuring Skylights to Inspire your Next Design

Skylights blur the barriers between outside and inside. Admire 10 awe-inspiring international skylights that push the boundaries of modern architecture.

mall of Africa skylight

1. Mall of Africa: Gauteng, South Africa

At 46,000 square feet, we’ll start this skylight saga with an expansive display of exposed architectural steel in the shape of trees. The plans for the mall, which is situated between Pretoria and Johannesburg, was designed by MDS Architecture. The mall is not only a major shopping hub in the area, but also serves as an architectural centerpiece for South Africa.

Structurally, the mall uses Free Form, Kugel Knoten and Air Filled Pillow Systems along with Architecturally Exposed Steel. The sprawling free form roof is adorned with ETFE cladding that lights up and changes colors. The noteworthy triangle shaped air filled pillows were mechanically fastened with the Novum FF-System. The finished result is a stunningly large display that creates a shopping environment unlike any other. 

Willis Tower skylight

2. Willis Tower: Chicago, Illinois

From the in-house engineering and fabrication to the supply and installation, Novum Structures created the impressive curved spotlight perched at the base of the Willis Tower. Novum worked in direct collaboration with the architect, Gensler, to create a unique entertainment space in downtown Chicago. The building is designed to offer a massive gathering space where visitors can look up at the looming Willis Tower, or sit atop the curved spotlight on the rooftop garden.

The structure was designed using Novum’s proprietary Block Knoten and Edge Clamped Glass Systems. Block Knoten tubes are used in single layer and double layer space frame applications and are the preferred choice where geometries are close to orthogonal to keep nodes compact. The beams allow direct attachment of varied cladding systems.

Kingston University large glass skylight

3. Kingston University’s Knights Park: London, England

One of Novum Structure’s strengths is mastering the juxtaposition of older buildings with new, modern designs. In the Knights Park project, they did just that by designing and installing a 4,100 square foot glazed roof on top of a 1930’s brick building. The finished result is an inviting, almost surreal indoor space where visitors feel simultaneously protected from the outside elements, but directly adjacent to them.

Using the architectural design of Pascal & Watson Architects, Novum implemented its Architecturally Exposed Steel and Linear Supported Glass Systems. Among many notable features of the design, the roof structure boasts no connection points. This creates a seamlessly elegant appearance for students to enjoy all year round.

large glass skylight in Akasya mall

4. Akasya Mall: Istanbul, Turkey

Visitors to the Akasya Mall in Istanbul are continually awestruck by the creative and massive skylights positioned throughout the building. The mall has three different skylight sections, two of which are identical. The third is a symmetrical lens shape. The free form design of the skylights is especially impressive due to their enormity. Engineers at Novum Structures relied on barely visible tension cables and a continuous ring beam for stability to respond safely to seismic activity.

The project’s architecture was done by Istanbul-based Ömerler Architects, known for their design approaches that combine science, philosophy, and art.

Chicago navy pier skylight

5. Navy Pier: Chicago, Illinois

Giving the look of a giant Air Filled Pillow, the roof at the Navy Pier is a sight to behold. The design integrated Architecturally Exposed Steel to create a weightless look, despite its massive size. The intention behind this design was to give patrons of the space an unobstructed view of the city, while still creating a sturdy and impressive roof. The Air Filled Pillow System combines 2-4 layers of glass membrane and can be rectangles, squares, triangles or even octagons. In this design, engineers used large rectangular membranes.

The Navy Pier has long since been a popular destination for visitors from around the world as it packs in a variety of different attractions, including a ferris wheel, children’s museum, and more. The giant skylight, which can be seen from any angle, is undoubtedly a highly sought-after spot to visit.

Trafford Palazzo skylight at barton square

6. Trafford Palazzo at Barton Square: Manchester, England

The Trafford Palazzo needed a grandiose skylight to complement its luxurious and opulent building style. Novum Structures rose to the challenge when engineering an ornate 62,000 square foot structure with unrivaled attention to detail. The structure now boasts 1,800 unique pieces of glass and weighs a staggering 250 tons.

Leach Rhodes Walker was the lead architect on the project and procured marble and granite components sourced from India, Italy, and Brazil. The finished product is nothing short of stunning, with the Edge Clamped Glass System conjuring a classic, ancient feel with a modern twist. Trafford City sees around 45 million visitors annually, many of whom walk through the ornate atriums of Trafford Palazzo. 

American dream large glass skylight

7. American Dream Skylight: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Located not far from New York City, the American Dream Mall is a mega mall, complete with an indoor surfing complex, water park, and extensive shopping options. Novum Structures engineered and installed a skylight on par with the grandeur of the rest of the building. The free form design follows shoppers for nearly 8,000 square feet as they walk through a curved avenue style mall. Novum utilized its Edge Clamped Glass System in eye-catching triangles along the entirety of the skylight.

This project was a collaboration between architects Abugov Kaspar + GH & A Design Studios + Adamson Associates and General Contractor PCL Construction.

Skylight at oak parks high school

8. Oaks Park High School: Carshalton, England

Oaks Park High School, previously known as Stanley Park High School, was once two separate school buildings and is now an impressively joined atrium complete with areas to study and congregate. The atrium, now called “the learning street,” offers a study area drenched in natural light that is temperature controlled, spacious, and beautiful. The space exudes a mid-century modern feeling with asymmetrical glass. In order to distinguish the entrances at either end of the atrium, the façade utilizes Novum’s Point Supported Glass System, which is also supported by steel fins.

As Novum Structures notes: “The PSG-System provides the ability to generate high transparency with minimal support design and has been hugely instrumental in the development of highly technical facades. Novum’s fully tested system has been successful in thousands of projects including in high snow, seismic, and hurricane zones.”

Phillips 66 skylight

9. Phillips 66: Houston, Texas

The Phillips 66 Headquarters building in Houston is the shared workspace of 2,200 employees. The space is extensive, offering workers a full-service kitchen, a workout center, and more. Upon entering the building, visitors are met with the stunning atrium with an 80-foot x 210-foot glass skylight.

The impressive glass ceiling is designed using Free Form, Block Knoten, and Edge Clamped Glass Systems which cast beautiful triangular shadows throughout the day. The project was completed in partnership with HOK Architects. Together, the team developed a glass surface that covered 210 feet with one single layer. The dynamic systems rely on bolted nodal connections and over 800 steel beams.

Lazaridis hall at waterloo university skylight

10. Lazaridis Hall at Waterloo University: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Our final skylight to highlight in this post showcases the unique design of Lazaridis Hall. Students in Lazaridis Hall are able to study and convene under a dramatic and bright ceiling  which was forged using a combination of Novum’s Free Form and Edge Clamped Glass Systems. At 9,500 square feet, the atrium feels expansive yet airy. 

As Novum Structures notes, “the rectangular glass skylight features two high points, and the support structure utilizes Novum’s FF-System with rectangular hollow steel tubes and nodal steel disc connectors.” The arced glass creates dramatic shadows as the sun moves throughout the day, yet the inside feels protected and serene.

Novum Structures is proud to collaborate with architects and construction professionals all over the world to create stunning and unique features. To learn more about Novum’s other engineering and design masterpieces, view our projects or  contact our team today!