An undisputed masterpiece from every possible angle, the Guangzhou Opera House in China is fully representative of the enormous progress the country has made in the field of contemporary design through recent years. A real statement piece both inside and out, the opera house’s design mixes elegance and opulence in equal measure. From the exterior, the glass and steel construction combination presents a stark, powerful image. Inside, those sharp angles and edges are contrasted beautifully with the smooth curves and subtle spotlights of Zaha Hadid’s mind-blowing 1,800 seat performance hall.
Built throughout six years from 2003 to 2009, the Linked Hybrid features a series of eight towers, all connected by enclosed sky-bridges and passageways. An example that many cities and urban planning officials around the world can take inspiration from, the Linked Hybrid is equipped with environmentally friendly features like geothermal wells to provide the ideal internal temperatures. The smart design blends public and private space, fusing the intimacy and seclusion of private residency buildings with large communal spaces like gardens, restaurants, and shopping areas to effectively create an entire enclosed community in the heart of Beijing.
Award-winning architect Thom Mayne broke the boundaries of traditional design and architecture with his conception for Dallas’ Perot Museum. Blending the beauty of nature and the wonder of science, the structure is formed in the shape of a cube that seems to float a few meters above the ground, suspended atop a massive plinth. A giant, glass-covered escalator straddles the side of the cube, transporting visitors to the higher levels of the museum while also offering them some stunning views of the surrounding area and plinth, which has been lined with an array of Texas grasses.
The majestic conservatories of Singapore’s ‘Gardens by the Bay’ seem to ebb and flow right out of the ground itself, rising above the cool, calm waters of the city’s marina and curving around upon themselves. Awarded the 2012 Building of the Year award during the World Architecture Festival, the two structures of this dual design are known as the ‘Flower Dome’ and the ‘Cloud Forest.’ The former is the largest columnless glasshouse on Earth, and the structures were designed with eco-friendliness in mind, with the in-garden ‘Supertrees,’ designed by Grant Associates, able to soak up solar energy and distribute rainwater.
The sort of structures that were once reserved for the realms of fantasy, the twin towers of the Absolute World complex in Mississauga, Ontario stand at 529 feet and 589 feet, housing 50 and 56 floors, respectively. The towers seem to twist and fluctuate as they rise, widening and thinning out as they reach up to the sky. The curvy form factor provides an eye-pleasing, almost optical illusion-like effect, while the smooth, continuous balconies and elliptical floors provide a sense of structure and symmetry in an otherwise fluid, unpredictable design.
Utilizing a simple but powerful technique to great effect, the Parrish Art Museum is an unparalleled beacon of imagination and creativity. The striking, double-gabled roof achieves the impossible, being equally beautiful and impressive from both the exterior and interior. Outside, its sharp edges and angles present a bold, striking image that matches magically with the vibrant works housed within. Inside, the effect is even stronger, with high-ceilings on either side and narrowed, cozy passageways through the center. Visitors can admire the works all around them, but shouldn’t forget to look up and appreciate the masterpiece above their heads.
The leaning, sloping angles of this Icelandic masterpiece almost make it seem like one has stepped into an enormous hall of mirrors. The building offers something new and exciting when observed from different angles, while the clever use of highly reflective, multi-colored glass all over the exterior enhances the center’s dream-like aesthetic qualities and has helped the HARPA Concert Hall become one of Reykjavik’s most iconic structures. When the sun sets, LED lights illuminate the entire building, with its beauty perfectly mirrored and extended into the waters that surround it.
A construction with a distinctly Spanish flair, the Metropol Parasol in Seville was constructed in 2011 but has swiftly become one of the city’s most beloved landmarks. Blending natural, tree-like imagery with dark colors and contemporary design features, this structure is a genuine human-made marvel. Standing at 90 feet in height and stretching out to cover a full plaza, the parasol provides cooling, welcoming shade from the Spanish sun for the restaurants and passers-by below, while also offering viewing platforms and walkways above, letting locals and tourists alike enjoy extraordinary views of the surrounding city.
A genuinely impressive creation the likes of which the world had never seen before, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai almost seems to enter the realms of science fiction with its towering presence and tapered design. Beginning with a broad base, the tower, which is the largest on the planet and stands at an astonishing height of 2,717 feet, gradually thins out as it rises, finishing with a 700-foot spire that pierces the Arabian skies as a monument to humanity’s capacity for creativity. The building features a total of 162 floors, including a hotel and 124th-floor observation deck.
Jutting out proudly into the cloudy skies that have come to symbolize the British capital, London’s ‘The Shard’ stands at 1,016 feet and is the tallest building in the UK, as well as one of the tallest in Europe. London’s cityscape has been thoroughly enhanced by this recent addition, with the design taking inspiration from the iconic needle-like shape of church steeples and the architects, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, utilizing a series of eight glass facades to help The Shard shine brightly. The building has a wide variety of uses, containing offices, residences, restaurants, an observation area, and a hotel.