It is beautifully said that this world is created by the gods and the architects. This earth itself is a creation and the architectural edifices we have today are also emotive manifestation of the same inspiration. Architecture is a name to the frozen sensations of our civilization, which has kept enlivening memories with spirit of place. It is also the oldest heritage of our humanity and is instrumental in reflecting our thoughts, beliefs and hopes. Over time and revolution, zeitgeist of our civilization has changed, and thus architectural expressions have also been revised with ensuing developments.
Some structures today are so arresting that they simply cast a magic over us and we remain spellbound looking at their beauty. There are several architectural landmarks, which have stayed symbolic of their century. The story of architecture began from pre-Egyptian period centuries ago and is still continuing with the glory of Greek and Roman engineering. The following of movement of Renaissance, Art Nouveau and Neo-classicism has engendered the style of modern architecture; where the values of post-Modernism, expressionism, Deconstructivism and High-tech Architecture are pursuing futuristic architecture.
While the realm of architecture is ever evolving, there are some amazing and wonderful architectural structures, which are beautifully engineered and are worth mentioning here. So, let us take a look at the top 10 beautifully engineered architectural structures in the world.
Beijing National Stadium in China, also famous as Bird’s Nest, was designed by Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd. The stadium was built to host the 2008 Summer Olympics held in China. The construction started from December 2003, after the top design with bird’s nest concept was approved. The stadium was opened to public at an official ceremony on 28 June 2008.
The stadium has purely structural appearance with steel beams forming a spatial grid. The bowl shaped stadium had a retractable roof, which was later removed considering the seismic stability of the building. Acoustics of the huge stadium is also methodically maintained by hiding the structure with translucent membrane ceiling. The stadium also provides a panoramic view of the Olympic complex. The stadium has occupied an area of 258,000 m2, and has capacity of seating for 91,000 people. Nearly 110,000 tons of steel was used in structural assembly of the stadium. Construction of the stadium cost $423 m, whereby the construction work was halted for nearly four months, due to complaint of high cost. While the stadium has been profitable to the Chinese government with popular international events, the government is planning to develop the stadium as a supermarket and performing multiplex.
Burj Al Arab, formerly known as Chicago Beach Hotel and Resort, was designed by architect Tom Wright. Burj Al Arab is the world’s only 7 star hotel build in an artificial island, and is also the fourth tallest hotel in the world. The 321 m high building is 16th tallest building in the Middle East. WS Atkins plc started the construction of the building in 1994, and the construction completed in 1999.
The design of Burj Al Arab was inspired from sail of a dhow invented by the Arabs. Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel with the Royal Suite costing $28,000 per night. The foundation of the wonderful structure is standing upon concrete piles droved 230 m deep into sand. The building is the tallest structure in the world having membrane façade. For holding the building still, 9,000 tons of steel was used in diagonal trusses. The building is connected to the continental landmass by a hooked conduit bridge. The open lobbies of the 60 floor hotel only depend on natural daylight during daytime. The hotel has 180 m high atrium with multicolor décor. The building also has a helipad at a height of 210 m, where Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played a tennis stunt and a golf course stunt was also played by Rory Mcllroy.
Petronas Towers is the tallest twin building in the world designed by architect Cesar Pelli. Petronas Towers remained the tallest standing structure in the world from 1998 to 2004, until the Taipei 101 came. The construction of the towers completed after seven years in 1998, and was open to public in 1999 only. Architect Pelli has inventively shaped the building in post-modernistic style with the blend of Islamic culture, which came out to be significant as a Malaysian design.
The two towers were separately constructed by Hazama Corporation and Samsung Engineering & Construction. The two syndicates for building the towers were also independently hired from Japan and South Korea. The 88 story towers are connected by a double-decker pedestrian sky-bridge at floor 41 and 42. The sky-bridge was designed by New York based structural engineers, and the bridge is highest of its kind in the world. The 378.6 m high skyscraper has symbolically derived spires giving an additional height of 73.5 m to the building. The building has concrete raft foundation resting upon concrete piles bored up to 120 m deep underground. Architect Pelli extracted the geometric design inspired from Malaysian art and culture. The building is sustainably designed making an allowance for the climatic conditions of Kuala Lumpur.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is one of the remarkable deconstructivist structure designed by architect Frank O. Gehry. The museum of modern and contemporary art funded by Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was open to public in 1997. The museum building is bold signature of architect Gehry which made him starchitect.
Architect Gehry has used his notable materials in the building, titanium and glass, which has made the structure sculpture-like. The smooth and wavy exterior is similar to that of Walt Disney Concert Hall in USA by the same architect. The museum building is noticeable for its characteristic design, and is celebrated as one of the greatest building of 20th century. The building has quite an imaginative and subtle form that isn’t only functional to the myriad of collections, but is also captivating with its unique style. As in his other projects, architect Gehry used special mathematical software to design the building which made the amazing structure possible to be established. The inventive design of building has inspired global trend of architecture along with the concept of post-modernism. The design of the museum building has sumptuously expressed the cultural dynamism of Bilbao city in an urbanite picture. Since its opening, the museum building has been hosting several international exhibitions and art installations.
Fallingwater House is the one of the greatest masterworks of architect Frank Llyod Wright, for which he was recognized as ‘the greatest American architect of all time’. Built in 1935, Fallingwater House is known as ‘the best all-time work of American architecture’. The residence was originally built for a successful businessman from Pittsburgh, Edgar Kauffman Sr., which Kauffman Jr. donated to Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963. The building was titled the National Historic Landmark of USA in 1966. Fallingwater House is considered as the most beautiful work of Wright, but interestingly, he is said to have designed the building within 3 hours after several postponements with the client.
Notable of organic and modern architecture, the Fallingwater House is standing upon a monolithic foundation under which a waterfall runs expeditiously; and thus the name for Kauffman Residence comes, the Fallingwater House. It was specially designed T-shaped steel beams which made the extensive cantilevers in the building possible. The design of the building is feature of natural and simple geometric expression of architect Wright. Fallingwater is an extraordinary genius of architect Wright inspired by stimulating nature and its organism. Resting in an exquisite setting of rural panorama, the building attracts more than 150,000 visitors a year.
The Dhaka National Assembly Building, also known as Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban, is the most cherished work of master architect Louis I. Kahn. The construction of the building began in 1961, when the territory of Bangladesh was under Pakistan, and with huge conflict it took almost 22 years to complete. Architect Kahn couldn’t see his building completed, but the building turn out to be one of the best and eloquent structures of 20th century architecture. The glory of the building has been featured in a 2003 documentary film, ‘My Architect’, directed by architect Kahn’s son, Nathaniel Kahn.
The National Parliament Building of Bangladesh has been set monumentally with axial symmetry giving splendid dignity to the building. Architect Kahn used his favorite material, brick and reinforced concrete, in shaping the building contained with modern architecture. The design of the Assembly Complex is quite philosophical and iconic where architect Kahn has meticulously put his beautiful and prominent thought of silence and light. Kahn also integrated relevant landscape and a lake in the Assembly Complex along with residential aptitude, making it one of the largest parliament buildings in the world. The National Parliament Building of Bangladesh is of international importance with its exceptional value in examples of modern architecture. The building has been a famous tourist attraction, people being lured by its sophisticated beauty; and the assembly complex is open to visitors except the main building.
Sydney Opera House was designed by architect Jorn Utzon in 1957. It is considered as one of the masterpieces of 20th century architecture. The construction was completed in 1973 and consequently listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 considering its outstanding world value.Today, Australia is famous worldwide for this magnificent structure.
The Opera House is taken as a profound example of an expressionist architectural style with modernistic approach. Its striking design is a poetic creation of Utzon. It consists of huge precast concrete shells composed of sections of sphere, which has given it an iconic and monumental grandeur at the same time.The grand scale of the building, rhythmic pattern of concrete shells and organic form of the building is self-sufficient to justify its architectural meaning. The functional aspect of the building is also well-organized. As a theatre, it contains large concert hall, drama theatre and playhouse with ambient interior and a welcoming forecourt with open-air venue. Every year, about eight million people come here to witness the majestic beauty of the building with their senses remaining awe-struck. Sydney Opera House is only the one of its kind and unique of its architectural identity.
National Congress Hall for Brasilia was designed by one of the great modernist Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer. It was the very time when Brazil was forging towards inclusive development, and architect Niemeyer designed the landmark building for his nation. Niemeyer was commissioned the project in 1957, which was completed in 1964. The building has been listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1987, recognizing the architecture of the building as authentic and modern legacy of Brazil.
Eminently admired as ‘sculptor of monuments’, architect Niemeyer has set the building in central monumental axis with two harmonizing domed and semi-sphere structures on either side. Whilst the dome and semi-sphere serve as the seat of the Senate and the seat of the Chamber of the Deputies, the Parliament Office tower is centrally placed. The simple yet iconic design of the building is truthful to urban scope of Brazil. The Congress Hall complex is an eccentric prospect of reinforced concrete exposed by Niemeyer with artistic sumptuousness of space. Architect Niemeyer was a great dreamer, who has brought on the conscience of national identity into architecture of the emblematic building. He has idealized democratic philosophies in the open design of the building. The modern utopian architecture of the National Congress Hall established global identity of Brazil.
The epitome of Mughal architecture, Taj Mahal, is one of the 7 wonders of the world considered as finest work of Muslim art. Shah Jahan, mighty emperor of his time, in commemoration of his beloved Mumtaz, built this fascinating structure based on Humayun tomb architecture. This 17th century structure took almost 21 years to complete with commitment of thousands of unequaled artisans. With its universal appreciation, Taj Mahal was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Taj Mahal is a rare and ultimate model of obsession and love articulated through means of architecture. The rich components of the mausoleum; iwans, domes and minarets have jointly posed grandeur of the structure. The stucco and white marble finished exterior, intricately carved interior with exquisite and semiprecious gemstones and exotic garden have given unmatched beauty to the mosque complex. One can view a dazzling effect of Taj Mahal during full moon, when incandescence springs from white marble and precious gemstones of the mosque. The outlying minarets in cardinal directions are said to have constructed so perfectly that they would fall outwards, the main central chamber with finial remaining intact, if shaken by an earthquake. There is also an interesting story about Shah Jahan’s desire to reproduce Taj Mahal in black marble beside the Yamuna River, exactly to opposite and in refection of the white Taj Mahal. But, he couldn’t fulfill his wish after he was imprisoned by his son at Red Fort from where he could only frame the building from a window. Enthused from its style, there are several replicas of Taj Mahal worldwide. The mausoleum symbolizes opulence, splendor and military powers of the Mughal Empire, and yet they are ageless in their beauty and symmetry.
Absolute World, also named as Marilyn Monroe Towers, is a dynamic architecture building designed by Chinese architect Yasong Ma. The building is a residential apartment house for the Greater Toronto Area. Construction of the two towers of the Absolute World Complex skyscrapers began from April 2007 and was completed in December 2012. The 158 m tall building was awarded the “Best Tall Building Americas” in the 2012 CTBUH Awards Program.
The most striking feature of the building is that it rotates by 8 degrees at different floor levels, providing each unit with a 360 degree panoramic view. The curvaceous design has given an elegant and sculptural expression to the building. The unique building was assumed to have construction challenges, but with heavy structural reinforcement at base, modified rail climbing system, Peri’s SKYDECK drop head system and EFCO climbing elevator formwork system; the building turned out to be economically structural. For shaping humanoid form to the building, 9,210 tons of iron was used. The helicoid building has curvy and cantilevered wraparound balconies in each floor resting upon a grid of concrete load bearing wall. The organic and progressive design of Absolute World has redefined the architecture of traditional high-rise structures with resurgence of contemporary identity.
Architecture is always ingenuous to human ambitions, and has represented socio-political and socio-economic expansions of particular age. Today also, epoch-defining architectural structures are emerging in several parts of the world with explicit notion of universal value. With every movement of reformation, either of arts, metaphysics or of science and technology; there has been a specific period of architecture in ever-changing world. The architecture of 21st century is definitely growing with experimentation of high-tech revolution. But, architecture, being honest to its meaning, is all based upon reconnoitering beauty. And thus, the amazing buildings having undying part of spirit in their materialism have been always admired for their actuality.