Which architect surprises with the most spectacular design? Which creative thinks oustide the box, resulting in an iconic piece of architecture? These triumphs of contemporary architecture are daring. They surprise and inspire.
Zaha Hadid Architects, 2012
Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku Azerbaijan
In Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, Zaha Hadid Architects was selected to build the cultural centre, Heydar Aliyev Centre. The building is a break from the rigid and monumental Soviet architecture. Instead it aspires to the sensibilities of the nation’s culture, optimism and outlook on the future.
Ateliers Jean Nouvel, 2003
National Museum of Qatar: The Desert Rose in Doha, Qatar
The massive construction of the National Museum in Qatar was inspired by a desert rose, a flower-like mineral crystal, created through wind, sea and sand. This natural structure was a very complex but poetic model for this building with large intersecting discs. The whole museum embraces the historic palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani like a necklace. The building is at the cutting-edge of technology, just like the city it is planted in.
Heatherwick Studio, 2013
Vessel in New York, USA
Heatherwick Studio was invited to design a public centrepiece for Hudson Yards, a new 11-hectare development on Manhattan’s west side. The studio created a structure that visitors might be able to use, touch and even climb. Vessel is composed of 2,500 steps, 154 flights, 80 landings and 16 storeys. Its complex architectural framework of raw welded and painted steel contrasts with its polished copper-coloured steel underside that reflects the surrounding city. Forming a major free public attraction at the heart of this new district, Vessel represents an intention to create an extraordinary kind of public legacy for New York.
Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, 2003
Beijing National Stadium in Beijing, China
This stadium was designed and built for the Olympic Games in 2008. Most people know this building as ‘The Bird’s Nest’, but actually the design is based on the concept of the shape that would result from wrapping a single thread around a ball. With this stadium China wanted to show its economic power to the world. The stadium was built with 110.000 tonnes steel and is the largest structure ever in this material. For the design, the architects collaborated with the renowned artist Ai Weiwei, who was banned by China. Later, he announced that he regretted having participated in this project, which symbolises the promotion of the new China.
Frank Gehry, 2014
Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France
Closer to home, you find Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. This museum of art is situated at the heart of Greater Paris, in the Bois de Boulogne park. Architect Frank Gehry was asked to design a great glass vessel dedicated to culture. Constructed on the edge of a water garden, the building consists of an assemblage of white blocks surrounded by twelve immense glass “sails”. These sails give the building its transparency and sense of movement, while allowing it to reflect the water, woods and garden and continually change with the light.