From Greek influence on Roman to Islamic influence on Gothic, the subconscious inter-mix of cultures was common throughout history that led to its existing style. This subtle blend in architecture has reached a point where differentiating each style is becoming a challenge.
With architectural styles travelling beyond time, culture and location, a wave of Deja Vu unknowingly swipes a traveller to their homeland wherever they go.
Let’s see 15 commendable Multi-cultural Architecture around the world:
1. Denis Hurley Centre – Durban
Situated in one of the most diverse locations in South Africa, it is fascinating to witness its contemporary facade being highly responsive to the hot climate and the pure Gothic Emmanuel Cathedral adjacent to it.
The streamlined structure sharply cuts through the junction, creating a dynamic yet vibrant impression on a building that serves as a living memorial to the Archbishop. Its triangular floor plan with a centralised atrium serves multiple functions within its complex site.
2. Labranche House – New Orleans
This elegant structure standing on the crossroads of the Vieux Carre is one of the most prominent and the best examples of French architecture in New Orleans.
The embroidered iron lacework balcony that envelopes the facade is one of the largest and most photographed in the French Quarters. This iconic symbol receives tourists from across the world, attracted by its haunted history and architectural magnificence.
3. Qanat Quartier – Pearl-qatar
A small community in the artificial island of The Pearl-Qatar, Qanat Quartier attempts to recreate the concept of Venice to the Islamic context. A row of pastel-hued buildings runs on either side of the canal that cuts through the island creating a sense of calm and tranquillity.
Although the city seems to replicate the European city at first notice, the culture, cuisine and lifestyle of the Middle East are kept intact from the small shops selling Arabian Oud to the Karak tea stalls on the side roads.
4. Victoria Memorial – Kolkata
This white marble beauty near the banks of the Hooghly River in the city of Kolkata is Indo-Saracenic Revival with influence from Venetian, Egyptian, Deccani and Islamic architecture. Designed by William Emerson in the 19th century, it is a memorial to Queen Victoria who was the then Empress of India.
Guarded by two white lions at the entrance, this structure resonates the Taj Mahal mainly with its Makrana Marble, dome and four minarets. The building is also home to about twenty-five art galleries and a vast collection of stone statues.
5. Thien Hau Temple – Los Angeles
The eye-striking elegance of Vietnamese Architecture with the glimmering pagodas decorated in lanterns are what makes this Taoist temple a popular destination in Los Angeles.
Maintained by the Vietnamese-Chinese community from ChinaTown, this temple follows their culture stringently with no influence from the lifestyle of the state. The beautiful annual Chinese festival that takes place outside this temple makes one transport to a place quite the opposite of the western culture.
6. Neasden Temple – London
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London is one of the largest Hindu temples outside India, with the structure entirely stone-carved while avoiding steel and iron, which is a rare feature of modern architecture. The marble-marvel is walled and positions itself at the focal point following the Shilpa-Shastras, which is a Vedic scripture on art, framed by the magnificent entrance.
The temple authorities host exhibitions to educate the European community on Hindu culture and the yearly Diwali festival is one of the most spectacular sights, with Diyas and flowers bringing back the memories of India.
7. Dhamma Sarana – Keysborough
This simple yet elegant white dome structure is a timeless symbol of Buddhist architecture and culture. Sri Lankan Monk, Vijitha Thera, established this shrine in Keys borough in the year 1999 and performed regular services since then.
This place of worship is prosperous not only in the preservation of the Buddhist culture but also the tranquillity and peace of similar shrines observed in Sri Lanka and other Buddhist communities. Although the space is small, the emotions felt by the visitor are divine.
8. Kapitan Keling Mosque – Penang
The Kapitan Keling Mosque in Penang is an exemplar of the Indian-Moorish architecture in Malaysia brought by an Indian Muslim trader from Tamil Nadu in the 19th century. The
Keling being a Malay term for the people of Indian origin while Kapitan is a representative of India, the unique combination black dome and a sloped roof is the distinctive trade-mark of this structure. The ochre-yellow exterior and the lavish gardens resemble the Mughal Architecture in India.
9. Bosjes Chapel – Worcester
Recognised by the undulating white canopy seamlessly resting over a glass framed facade reflecting the serene environment, this chapel elegantly positions itself in the backdrop of mountain ranges of Worcester. The structure offers a welcoming disposition with the clear water pool, and a wooden cross stood inside that is caught in the frame of the picturesque background.
The chapel detaches itself from worldly experience, making it seem to descend straight from the heavens. In terms of materials used, the concrete shell is an influence from contemporary architecture in Europe, unlike the traditional South African architecture that makes use of naturally available materials like rammed earth and thatched roof.
10. Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center – Baku
This fluid-like structure amidst the ever-growing urban setting of Baku in Azerbaijan has never failed to capture the eye with its balanced yet asymmetrical form. The fluidity is, in fact, an abstract perception of Islamic Architecture in Azerbaijan, characterised by the organic nature of the Islamic patterns on the walls that creates a blurry distinction of the floor to ceiling.
Being the major cultural hub in Baku, the fluidity of the structure helps connect various cultural spaces while keeping the privacy and integrity of each culture.
11. Atashgah Zoroastrian Fire Temple – Baku
Established by the Hindu-Zoroastrian community in the 18th century, this fire temple in Baku is one of the oldest standing structures denoting multiculturalism in Azerbaijan, with Punjabi, Persian and Sanskrit inscriptions on the walls.
This structure is one of the major tourist attractions in Baku, drawn by the simplicity and glimmering beauty of the natural fire sprouting from the various holes on the shrine. Zoroastrianism is the primary faith followed by Hinduism, where practising more than one religion in a single structure was a rare practice.
12. Sri Aurobindo Auditorium – Auroville
Sri Aurobindo Auditorium is the primary activity hub of the Bharat Nivas, also known as the Pavilion of India, which is a melting pot of cultures brought into union by Sri Aurobindo’s vision of a free and united India.
The auditorium hosts several events which include music, dance, theatre and other performing arts. The raw concrete-crated canopy that sharply cuts through the skies creates weightlessness to the building. The vegetation surrounding the auditorium creates a floral frame for the structure.
13. Lotus Temple – New Delhi
Resembling an elegant lotus floating on a pond, the Bahai House of Worship in New Delhi is a model of expressionist architecture in India. Designed by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba, this arched concrete structure clad in marble arranges itself as petals of a flower in a layered manner.
Moreover, the curved form also provides acoustic properties to the structure, bringing a serene atmosphere within. Although most Baha’i places of worship have a classic dome, this building resembles a deconstructed version of the Islamic dome with its petals, forming an invisible node at the top.
14. Cargills Ceylon – Colombo
Earlier known as “House of Cargills”, this colonial structure established by William Miller and David Sime Cargill in the 19th century originated as a general warehouse in Colombo Fort. In present times, this structure stands amidst the urban life of Colombo, that gradually evolved into a major departmental store in the city.
The characteristic red and white brick exterior follows the outline of the streets, creating a curved facade. The paired windows with semi-circular arches each and the arched openings surrounding the building are characteristic features of the Renaissance architecture.
15. Alhambra Palace – Granada
Islamic culture and Moorish Architecture prevailed for an adequate period in Spain during the Medieval Period. The Alhambra in Granada is one of the oldest examples of Moorish Architecture in Spain, with its intricate patterns and stunning frescos preserved to date.
It is a combination of palaces and courtyards within a fortified structure with multiple functions. The Royal Family of both Christians and Islam resided during different timelines within this walled city.
Cultures play an essential role in the evolution of a place which intertwines itself into a knot. Thus, compelling a predominant belief on the minority results in the dying of unique cultures. Several countries, such as Australia and Canada, set laws to incorporate multiculturalism. Thus, unbiased understanding cultures and their importance of its evolution is a necessity to preserve the history of a place.