Cantilevers on buildings — the parts of the structure that hang out over empty space, seemingly support-free — can serve a number of functions, both decorative and functional. And as building technology, materials science, and engineering capabilities continue to improve, architects are freer to imagine building designs that would not have been possible even a few decades ago. (Shown above: A-Lab‘s Statoil office in Oslo.) For a crowded city like Manhattan, where buildings fill every block and air rights (the ability to build higher) are big business, cantilevers allow for developers and architects to create office and residential towers that might not otherwise have been economically viable, as this great article in the New York Times explains. In residential uses, where the buildings are rarely more than a couple of stories tall, cantilevers can be wildly dramatic, as this slideshow at Architizer demonstrates. And because we can’t get enough of these things: another amazing compilation of buildings that hang out. What’s your favorite architectural cantilever? Photo: Ivan Brodey.