Architecture has the power to change the world; the power to give a form to the future, where it takes leaps and new wild forms in the future. Over the years, Architecture has always been shaping mankind through cultural, religious, and political aspects as every marvel makes an appearance, expanding the architectural community. Architectural technology paves the way for succeeding generations to survive. At its roots, Architectural marvels represent how our future sees us and as well as the world. But, do we commend the masterminds behind those marvels? This blog post is all about architectural marvels around the world and the masterminds behind them.

1. Beijing Daxing International Airport – Zaha Hadid

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Daxing International airport _© ArchDaily

Developed to lighten the congestion at the capital’s first airport, Beijing‘s second international airport was constructed in 2019 replacing Istanbul as the world’s largest transport hub for the region amidst the world’s fastest-growing demand for the foreign transport system. The structure is known for its sinuous form as ‘the starfish’, its sprawling star shape spans 7.5 million square feet. Originally the airport was serving 45 million passengers per year, and it is planned that it will accommodate 75 million passengers by 2025 and further expansion to make room for 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo annually.

2. La Sargada Familia – Antonio Gaudi

One of Barcelona‘s most famous landmarks, La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that began in 1882, which was built more than a century ago by Antonio Gaudi 1883 the chief architect of the project, till his death in 1926. The cathedral employs three-dimensional forms containing ruled surfaces, including hyperboloids, parabolas, helicoids, and conoids, were emphasizing the cathedral’s acoustics and quality of light.

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Passion façade _©Archdaily
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Vaults possessing Catalan modernism _©Arch daily

The design follows Catalan modernism intricate in each element by Gaudi, though he retained the typical Latin cross plan and features of a gothic cathedral from its foregoing design. Primarily, Flying buttresses were replaced by Angular columns and Hyperboloid vaults, eliminating gothic features in several ways. 

Literal symbolism is immersed in each aspect of La Sagrada Familia as they possess Christianity beliefs in three facades; the nativity façade facing East, The Glory façade facing West, and The Passion façade facing north. The Nativity façade was done with smooth, intricate corbelling overseen by Gaudi himself. After his death, the passion façade and Glory façade was taken over by Josep Maria Subirachis, who introduced modernism techniques to the cathedral’s design principles.

3. Seagram Building – Mies van der Rohe

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Seagram building, New york _©ArchDaily

Seagram Building, the epitome of modernism, in the heart of New York City was the first attempt at tall building construction of 515 feet high by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Mies’s reciprocation towards the building’s design principles was against the odds. Creating an open active plaza, imposing a setback of 100 feet from the street edge, the architect has set his ideologies apart from the New York urban morphology, the conventional practice of skyscraper construction.

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Facade highlighting metal bronze skin _©ArchDaily

The structure was embellished with a progression of bronze and dark glass, hitting a contrast on the concrete show of the plaza. The façade was fabricated with metal bronze skin and was amorphous yet gives a defined perspective of the structure beneath, along with other vertical elements, compelling a visual expression of the building.

4. Salk Institute – Louis Kahn

The Salk Institute was established by Jonas Salk in the year 1960, where Salk intended to approach Louis Kahn to design a biological research facility exploring the connotations of the sciences of humanity. 

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Mirrored structures with travertine courtyard _© ArchDaily

The institute was praised for its prominent aesthetics and functionality, creating a welcoming, minimalistic and inspiring environment for the researchers to work in. Kahn’s impact on the facility lies in the unobstructed laboratory spaces housed on two structures – identical to each other, each six-story tall, bounding the travertine courtyard.

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Openings to impose lighting into the structures _© ArchDaily

The laboratories were, by design, easily upgraded, and flooded with natural light with the impact of the courtyard as they possess double glass panels, imposing an open airy environment. Two floors have been sunk underground owing to the local building codes, which did not cease the design from its lofty requirements; a series of light wells measuring 40 feet long and 25 feet wide on each side of the building for daylighting even at the lowest level of the building.

5. Indian Institute of Management – Louis Kahn

It would be unconvincing not to speak of Ahmedabad Indian Institute of Management, One of Louis Kahn’s finest creations. It was renowned Indian architect BV Doshi who approached Louis Kahn to design the 60-acre campus of IIM, Ahmedabad. Kahn’s mastermind for the design of the institute was more than fulfilling the spatial requirements nonetheless the educational infrastructure as the primary concern.

The institute was a personification of modern architecture retaining traditional technologies to enhance the culture enamored with tradition in its context. The façade of the institute is its attribute as the cut-outs as abstract patterns function as extractions paying homage to Indian vernacular architecture. It also flaunts the light wells acting as a natural cooling system for the harsh arid context.

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Indian Institute of Management,Ahmedabad _© ArchDaily
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Arched doorways representing Indian vernacular architecture _© ArchDaily

6. Copen hill Energy plant – Bjarke Ingles

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Aerial view of Energy plant _© ArchDaily

Copen Hill, also known as Amager Bakke has turned into an architectural landmark, as it has become an abode of a Waste-to-energy plant surmounted on the ski slope, a hiking trail to make Copenhagen, the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. The plant has become an exemplary module as a waste management and energy production facility.

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Aluminum brick stacked as a skin for the plant _© ArchDaily

The design focuses on the reclamation of an unused invisible building to the public into a public infrastructure through a nature-filled program. The 4,10,00,000 Sqm project includes the urban recreational hub, and environment education imposing “Hedonistic Sustainability” and it was Bjarke Ingles who introduced the concept. The signature park and ski slopes on the rooftop cap the plant as a landmark. The rooftop will allow the visitors to use hiking trails, fitness structures, playgrounds, and views of the city. Beneath the slopes, lies the plant converting 44000 tons of waste from the city into energy. 

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Landscape enclosing the plant and waterfront _© ArchDaily

7. Le Grand Louver – I.M.Pei

The Louvre museum is still considered to be an iconic artwork as the one it houses inside. During the renovation campaign at cultural institutions in France, I.M.Pei, a Chinese – American architect was assigned for the renovations of the museum, the first foreign architect to work on the Louvre museum. To avoid congestion, the main court was redesigned with a central convenient lobby separating the galleries. Addition and relocation of galleries and exhibits underground aids in the expansion of the lobby of the Louvre museum.

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Louvre museum at central court _© ArchDaily

Pei’s addition of the steel and glass pyramid to the Louvre was a symbolic entry to the historical ancient monument, imposing Pei’s architectural mastermind into this cultural significance.

8. The Glass House – Philip Johnson

Glass House by Philip Johnson was considered to be a prominent work of modern architecture with its coherence inspired by Farnsworth House by Mies van der rohe. Nonetheless, it did not impress Mies, and it was stated that the latter stormed out as the design lacked interpretation of details.

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GlassHouse United States _©Arch daily

The house is the primary attraction of the site and measures about 32′ x 56′ enclosed in 18′ wide long glass from floor to ceiling. The clear glass creates lively reflections and interactions between the interior and exterior except for the cylindrical brick structure at one end of the house. The site has incorporated thirteen more structures including the art gallery, sculpture pavilion, and guest house. 

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Ameniteies along with Glasshouse _© ArchDaily

9. The Shard – Renzo Piano

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Aerial view of The Shard, United Kingdom _© ArchDaily

Renzo Piano’s “The Shard” is an approach to exploring the urban landscape, being the tallest building in Western Europe, and a welcomed addition to London’s Skyline. The tower is a mixed-use skyscraper, with architecturally striking features including offices, apartments, retail areas, restaurants, and a spa.

The skyscraper was planned as a “vertical city”, maximizing the spatial functionality, to address the growing population of the city. Public enclosures are at ground level creating a plaza with restaurants and cafés. The upper floors showcase office spaces with vertically inclined green pockets, hotel rooms, and luxury apartments with prepossessing views.

10. Guggenheim Museum – Frank Lloyd Wright

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Solomon.R.Guggenheim Museum _©Arch daily

The Guggenheim Museum is one of the most popular and last major projects of Frank Lloyd Wright. The organic curves of the museum give a striking contrast to the rigid context, making it an architectural identity. Wright proposed that “one great space on a continuous floor” was achieved throughout the building, where the curves at the exterior created a stunning impact even on the interiors. The designs as the floors are connected through ramps running spirally along, with a high atrium at 92′ in height to an expensive glass dome.

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Interior of the museum _© Arch daily

Although these organic curves are the attributes of the museum, they were not successful in terms of practicality and did not satisfy Manhattan’s building codes or structural technicalities.

11. Sydney Opera House – Jorn Utzon

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Sydney Opera House _© Archdaily

Arguably, among the most famous buildings in Australia, and considered the eighth wonder of the world, the Sydney Opera House constitutes a masterpiece of the 20th century. The construction of the opera house started after the demolition of the existing Fort Macquarie Tram Depot, in three stages ; (i) Foundation of the building and podium overlooking the ocean (ii) development of outer shells (iii) Interior schemes.

The concept behind the shells was to be portrayed like large sails with a striking contrast to the blue ocean. True to its concept, the shells were covered with white ceramic tiles from clay and limestone; it took 11 years to complete its iconic roof structure. Interiors were done during the final stage under the supervision of newly appointed architects, where Utzon’s original designs were significantly changed.

The planning includes a minor hall, originally intended for stage productions; it was changed into operas and ballet rooms, Grand staircase making way to the auditoriums. Extensive renovations were made by the government to turn the opera house into a monument of technology in the 20th century.

12. Taj Mahal – Shah Jahan

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Frontage of Taj Mahal _© Arch daily

Taj Mahal, one of the easily recognizable structures in the world, unanimously known as the “Symbol of eternal love” was a mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal by Shah Jahan. The structure is considered to be harmoniously integrated with the environment complimenting the structure itself along with River Yamuna running by.

Taj Mahal is a literal symbol of the Mughal style, infusing Islamic, Persian, and Indian styles. More than twenty thousand workers were involved for this magnificent exterior and intricate interior to be completed.

Significant features of the complex are symmetrical buildings with the arch-shaped doorway which are originally Persian. The multi-chambered cube behaves as the main structure with vaulted archways on all four sides, where false sarcophagi of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are placed, whereas the original graves are beneath the ground with minarets which are traditional Islamic elements on boundaries, one at each corner. 

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Interior of Mausoleum _© Arch daily

Interiors and exteriors are astonishing equally as it is laid with precious gemstones and detailed carvings creating harmonious and religious encounters with the public.

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Intricate carvings inside the main structure _© Arch daily
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Intricate carvings inside the main structure _© Arch daily

13. Petronas towers – Kuala Lumpur

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Overview of Petronas tower _© Arch daily

Petronas Towers by Ceaser Pelli is a cultural and architectural icon and is considered to be one of the tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004 paying homage to Islamic architecture in Malaysia. The towers were not just fascinated by their height, yet the conceptual ideas of Pelli to integrate Islamic motifs and symbols to evoke the city’s rich cultural ideologies. The tower rises to 452 meters, as it goes tapered towards the top of the tower, stabilizing the towers structurally, and making an elegant perspective of the skyline of Malaysia. Unlike other twin towers, where the towers are connected by Sky Bridge, connecting two floors at 41st and 42nd levels respectively. These bridges, though connected could move independently during harsh weather. 

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View from Sky bridge _© Arch daily
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View from Sky bridge _© Arch daily

Although the Petronas towers are not the tallest building anymore, it stands as an iconic structure in Malaysia and has diverted people’s radar toward Malaysia’s culture and heritage.

14. Hagia Sophia – Constantine I

 Enlisted as a UNESCO Heritage site, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey was the world’s largest cathedral, until the completion of Seville cathedral in 1520. It was an orthodox Greek cathedral from its completion in 537 to1453, briefly a Roman Catholic church from 1204 to 1261, a mosque from 1453 to 1931, and a museum from 1931 to 2020, now reverting as a mosque.

Hagia Sophia is truly fascinating imposing enormous cultural, historical, and religious transposes in its architectural history. Originally built, the church incorporated ashlar and brick. It follows typical cathedral planning with the nave being covered with a central dome, resting on four pendentives, which was truly captivating at that time. Over the years, interiors are embellished with golden mosaics, and decors representing Islamic style, whereas the minarets at exteriors, one used red bricks and the other three used limestones and sandstone.

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Hagia Sophia ,Istanbul _© Arch daily

15. Angkor Wat – Suryavarman II

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Angor Wat – Largest temple in Angkor _©Arch daily

Angkor Wat, One of the largest temple complexes in Angor, area of present-day Cambodia. Originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu as a Khmer temple, it was later dedicated to Buddha as a Buddhist monastery, and still, it behaves as a religious pilgrimage till today.

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Angkor Wat – Moat surrounding the temple _©Arch daily

The temple primarily follows Khmer architecture, pyramids, and concentric galleries, where the galleries create pathways to central shrines and pyramids punctuating the corners of the temple. The entire complex faces west as the temple was initially dedicated to Lord Vishnu as he rules the western quadrant of the compass. As mentioned above, Angkor Wat is the largest temple among the complexes, as it is enclosed by a moat and the area spans the outer wall from the moat,1500m from east to west,1300m from north to south.

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Intrications on exterior  _©Arch daily
Pyramids at corners of the temple _©Arch daily

The complex is a literal symbol of Hindu beliefs, as the pyramids represent the peaks of mountains, a succession of concentric galleries as mountain ranges that surround Mountain Meru- Home of Gods and a moat representing mythical oceans.

References

  1. David Douglass-Jaimes. “AD Classics: Angkor Wat” 13 Oct 2018. Available at: Arch Daily.. <https://www.archdaily.com/101004/ad-classics-angkor-wat> ISSN 0719-88849 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  2. Adelyn Perez. “AD Classics: Sydney Opera House / Jørn Utzon” 23 Jun 2010. Available at: Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/65218/ad-classics-sydney-opera-house-j%25c3%25b8rn-utzon> ISSN 0719-8884 88849 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  3. Andrew Kroll. “AD Classics: Petronas Towers / Cesar Pelli” 24 Jan 2011. . Available at:Arch Daily.. <https://www.archdaily.com/105895/ad-classics-petronas-towers-cesar-pelli> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  4. Karen Cilento. “The Shard / Renzo Piano” 28 Aug 2009.Available at: Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/33494/the-shard-renzo-piano> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  5. Adelyn Perez. “AD Classics: The Glass House / Philip Johnson” 17 May 2010. Available at: Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/60259/ad-classics-the-glass-house-philip-johnson> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  6. Eduardo Souza. “AD Classics: Le Grand Louvre / I.M. Pei” 18 Nov 2010C Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/88705/ad-classics-le-grande-louvre-i-m-pei> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  7. Eric Baldwin. “CopenHill: The Story of BIG’s Iconic Waste-to-Energy Plant” 07 Oct 2019. Available at:  Arch Daily<https://www.archdaily.com/925966/copenhill-the-story-of-bigs-iconic-waste-to-energy-plant> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  8. Andrew Kroll. “AD Classics: Indian Institute of Management / Louis Kahn” 25 Oct 2010. Available at:  Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/83697/ad-classics-indian-institute-of-management-louis-kahn> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  9. Adelyn Perez. “AD Classics: Seagram Building / Mies van der Rohe” 10 May 2010. Available at:  Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/59412/ad-classics-seagram-building-mies-van-der-rohe> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  10. Luke Fiederer. “AD Classics: Salk Institute / Louis Kahn” 11 Jan 2019. Available at: Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/61288/ad-classics-salk-institute-louis-kahn> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
  11. Rennie Jones. “AD Classics: La Sagrada Familia / Antoni Gaudí” 16 Oct 2013. Available at:Arch Daily. <https://www.archdaily.com/438992/ad-classics-la-sagrada-familia-antoni-gaudi> ISSN 0719-8884 [Accessed 11 Sep 2022]
Author

Varsha Mini Veronica, an architect and urban enthusiast, driven by desire to envision modes of sustainability through design as a tool highlighting architectural writing as the medium to critique, create a demand for better architecture for society. Her strengths include her as a vertical thinker, as she believes in developing platforms that are not just human- centric but to address the livability of the environment.

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