The most emotionally-provoking buildings of all time

A lot of people have written about the way architecture affects people’s emotions. If we look at it the other way around, what would have been the factor affecting our emotions while designing? It is courage that makes us express to the world how we feel at a given time. Some of us, especially Architects, portray our emotions through creative interpretation, sometimes even unconsciously.

1. Sagrada Familia

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Sagrada Familia_©istock

This theory has been reviewed several times from an artistic viewpoint. Architecture being an Artistic profession and creativity being one of its core elements, it is logical to think that it could also be affected by our emotions. If we analyse architectural movements in history, we could obtain clues suggesting that these movements occurred while various emotion-provoking situations had happened at that time. Here are some buildings that are the most emotionally-provoking:

“A designer cannot control everything, but we should listen to the diversity beyond these designs, and we should be able to create such an area that accepts and transforms the range. We need a fragile sensitivity to uncertain things.”

Sou Fujimoto

2. Great Wall of China

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Great Wall of China_©https_readtoolead.com_mp3-the-history-of-the-great-wall-of-china

The longest man-made structure built in the world is the remarkable, Great wall of China. The project began in the period between 220 and 206 B.C. The Great wall was constructed by Emperor Qin Shi Huang for defending against attacks from the ancient Yayun tribe and a non-continuous built structure. It was completed simultaneously by different successors from different periods. Bricks, stones, tamped earth and wood were the materials used for the construction of the wall, but only a few sections of the wall stand till date. UNESCO made the great wall of China as a world heritage site in 1987.

Today, the great wall stretches over 50000 kilometres in length. The height of the wall ranges from 16 to 33 feet and has an average width of 15 feet. The structure emanates the memory of joy and security of the space attracting a lot of tourists all around the globe.

3. Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

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Great Pyramid of Giza_©https_beautiful-places12.blogspot.com_2016_06_pyramids-of-giza-el-giza-egypt.html

The great pyramid of Giza is one of seven wonders of the ancient world and the largest pyramid in the world. It was built for the pharaoh Khufu. It is one of the marvellous achievements of ancient Egypt, adding to the majesty and epicness of the era. The pyramid of Khufu was started around 2560 B.C and 2540 B.C. At a height of 146.5 metres tall and thus it remained the tallest building in the world for the next 3800 years. The great pyramid of Giza is the only Egyptian pyramid to possess both ascending and descending passageways. Archaeologists believed that ancient Egyptian architects used knowledge about the alignment of stars for planning and designing the great pyramid of Giza. It is believed that the builders wanted to cut the big stone blocks by hammering them with wooden wedges. They also used 500000 tonnes of mortar for the construction of the pyramid. It is impossible to breed such strong mortar today.

4. Stonehenge, Salisbury, England

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It is a prehistoric stone monument located in Salisbury, England and has a circle of standing stones of various sizes. Archaeologists estimated that the monument was built around 4000-5000 years ago. Stonehenge also represents the architectural brilliance of ancestors who lived in that era. Ancestors made use of stones like bluestones and sarsen stones for construction. It took quite 1500 years for the development of monuments like Stonehenge at that point.

Stonehenge is in line with the midwinter Sunset and midsummer Sunset. There are many reasons behind the construction of Stonehenge, which ranges from burial sites to religious sites to astronomical observatories.

5. Colosseum, Rome, Italy

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The Colosseum is the most impressive monument of the Roman Empire and therefore the finest example of Roman architecture. Adding to that, it is the largest amphitheatre in the world. It was built by Emperor Vespasian in A.D 70 and completed in A.D 80 by his son Titus. The building has an elliptical structure standing at 159 feet. Earlier, it was used for staging fights between gladiators and wild animals. There were disastrous damages to the Colosseum, due to earthquakes that took place between 847 AD and 1231 AD.

Colosseum is a four-storey building with 80 entrances and could hold 50000-80000 spectators. Today the surviving parts of the Colosseum contain a wall at the Northern side of the monument, plus the underground passageways are also opened for the public.

6.Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh, India

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Taj Mahal_©https_wallsdesk.com_auto-draft-97875_

Taj Mahal is one of the most important historical monuments and an outstanding example of Mughal architecture in India. Taj Mahal means ‘Crown of palaces’ in the Arabic language, adding to it is also considered the most iconic symbol of love. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his dear wife, Mumtaz. The monument represents the mixture of Mughal, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Islamic and Indian architectural styles.

UNESCO recognized the Taj Mahal as a world heritage site in 1983, under the human designs criteria. Three skilled Architects named Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, Makramat Khan and Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan designed the Taj in 1632. Thousands of craftsmen, artists and painters worked for the construction. The domed mausoleum with its garden was completed in 1953. Sandstones, white marble, jasper and jades were the materials used for construction, plus many parts of the Taj have inscriptions of Quran engraved. The large garden of the Taj Mahal symbolizes the concept of a paradise garden.

7. Petra, Southern Jordan

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Petra, located in Southern Jordan, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. This rock-cut city was for the ancient Nabataeans during 37-100 C.E. Petra is also known as Rose City because of its use of red-rose sandstone from the mountain. Petra is a unique example of rock-cut architecture, plus it attracts tourists from all over the world. Petra was unexplored to the world upto 1812 and was discovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.

8. Borobudur, Central Java, Indonesia

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Borobudur is a world heritage site and the largest Buddhist temple. It was built 400 years before the construction of the Great Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It is a three-tier temple that covers a neighbourhood of 1900 square meters. The monument has a pyramidal base, a cone structure at the centre and a stupa at the top level. There are 504 Buddha statues and 72 open work stupas situated within the temple. UNESCO recognized Borobudur as a world heritage site in 1991. The temple remains hidden from the outer world for centuries and was discovered back in 1814.

9. Leshan Giant Buddha, Sichuan Province, China

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Leshan Giant Buddha_©https_worldtravelarena.com_listing_leshan-giant-buddha_

Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest carved stone Buddha statue found in the world. The Budhha statue is carved on the cliff face of the mountain, where Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers meet. The 71-meter Buddha statues construction was started in 713 by the Tang dynasty and it took 90 years for its completion. A Chinese monk named Haitong had made the initiation for construction of the Giant Budhha statue. The monk believed that upon construction would protect the site from the adverse effects of the turbulent water . The hidden channels of the drainage system go through the head, clothes, arms and behind the ears of the statue, to prevent degradation. 

10. Fallingwater, Pennsylvania

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Fallingwater is a residence designed by Architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. The house consists of a main and a guest house and both are oriented in east west direction. The main house has the two cantilevered terraces which are setup on top of the stream with the help of bolsters. Times cited it after its completion as Wright’s most beautiful job.

11. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

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Burj Khalifa_©https_builtarchi.com_burj-khalifa-dubai_

The Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper which is also known as the Burj Dubai before its inaugural in 2010. The building height is 829.8 m tall, Burj Khalifa has been the tallest building in the world since 2009, where Taipei 101 is the previous holder of that status.

12. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

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Sydney Opera House_©https_factins.com_interesting-facts-about-sydney-opera-house_

The Sydney opera is a performing arts centre  which is situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, on the brink of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it is adjacent to the Sydney central downtown. It was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and was formally opened on 20 October,1973, after selection as winner of an international design in 1957.

13. China Central Television Headquarters, Beijing,China

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China Central Television Headquarters_©

The CCTV Headquarters is a 44-storey skyscraper which was designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren. The tower is the headquarters for China Central Television. The project began in June 2004 and was inaugurated in 2008 during Beijing Olympics by the President, although the works were not completed until May 2012.

14. Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Petronas Towers_©https_en.wikipedia.org_wiki_Petronas_Towers

The Petronas Towers also referred to as the Petronas World Trade Center are the twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In accordance with the Council on Tall Buildings and concrete Habitat’s ranking it is the tallest buildings in the world between 1998 to 2004 and remains the tallest twin towers in the world.

15. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao,Spain

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Guggenheim Museum_©https_www.fotocommunity.de_photo_bilbao-the-guggenheim-museum-thomas-seethaler_43301003

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum designed by Frank Gehry and was dedicated to portray both the modern and contemporary art. The museum was opened by King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1987. It is located along the banks of the Nervion River, and is one among the several museums belonging to Solomon R.

16. Beijing National Stadium, China

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Beijing National Stadium_©https_architecturever.com_2019_04_16_beijing-national-stadium-and-its-bio-mimetic-history_

Beijing National Stadium, also called the Bird’s Nest, is a stadium designed by the Architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron for a maximum capacity of 91,000 people to occupy. The stadium was designed for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2008. Soon, it will be occupied again for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

17. Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madurai, India

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Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple_©https_www.dnaindia.com_india_report-madurai-s-meenakshi-amman-temple-to-ban-use-of-cell-phones-from-march-3-2589429

The Meenakshi temple is indeed a remarkable example of Dravidian architecture, which sets it foot out as one amongst the largest temple complexes seen in India. The temple complex is mainly dedicated to the deities Sundareswarar and Meenakshi.The highlight of the temple is the Hall of Thousand Pillars. Looking at 46m tall tower which tapers skywards like elongated, stepped pyramids, also its surfaces have writings with a jumble of deities, demons, warriors, curvaceous maidens, pot-bellied dwarves and sprites, all rendered colourfully.

18. The Bayterek, Kazakhstan

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The Bayterek _©Mariusz Kluzniak

The city of Astana is the project initiated by the President Nursultan Nazarbayev. According to the legend, the magic Samuruk bird laid its egg in the tree, likewise imitated through the spiky space-age tower representing the poplar tree. Yet this is only one of several statement buildings across this extraordinary city. There are many buildings exactly correlating with the concept, which can include the Pyramid of Peace designed by Norman Foster.

19. Atomium, Brussels, Belgium


It was built for the Expo’58. The structure is 102 m high, standing uniquely with nine connected stainless steel spheres representing the Atomium forms the shape of a cell of an iron crystal, which is iterated by magnifying 165 billion times. It was a vision to create  peace among nations and believe in scientific progress as a positive vision for the future.


  1. (2020, October 9). Top 10 Greatest Architectural Wonders Of Ancient World. The Mysterious World.,and%20a%20world%20heritage%20site%20situated. . .%20More%20

Martinez, K. (n.d.). The Greatest Architectural Marvels On Earth. Ranker. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from

  1. (2021, October 8). Wonders of the world – Architectural Marvels. Create Beautiful 3D Designs.

Prakriti is an Architecture graduate from MCE, Chennai. She is an enthusiastic person and is passionate towards writing perspectives that are profound and narrative. She gets fascinated by Tadao Ando’s minimalistic approach and loves to explore new avenues of architecture in a sustainable manner.

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