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Second 5 Jaw-Dropping Architecture from around the World (Part 2)

The all glass façade of the Royal Ontario Museum. Pic by Ken Straiton/getty images
The all glass façade of the Royal Ontario Museum. Pic by Ken Straiton/getty images

AND HERE’S THE SECOND PART TO OUR ARCHITECTURAL BLITZ. But before we rush headlong ─ Wait, you say: What is architecture in the first place?

Ah. Livingmsia would define architecture as the sum total of the past and present of society manifested as structures created through art which we all make our lives within. Therefore, architecture is all around us. Everywhere we are, the built form suffuses our environment, it protects us but sometimes it harms us. It is so complex, so profound, so lauded, so disparaged that it is hard to put a finger to the very meaning of the word.

For a better sense of perspective, visit:

First 5 Jaw-Dropping Architecture from around the World (Part 1)

But perhaps with a bit of tongue-in-cheek in the mulling of this difficult word, Jody Brown of coffeewithanarchitect.com can provide a few suggestions. We’ve borrowed her perspective of the definition:

Looks like a “lala”. The Universum Science Center, Bremen, Germany
Looks like a “lala” or oyster. The Universum Science Center, Bremen, Germany
  • Architecture (noun): The act of artfully placing complex forms in remote locations to be photographed for magazine covers.
  • Architecture (noun): The memory of that which could have been, that is invoked by the residual form remaining after extensive value engineering.
  • Architecture (noun): Public disinterest derived from a combination of self-importance and greed.
  • Architecture (noun): The compromise arrived at by the client and the designers after the president of the firm and the client played golf yesterday.
  • Architecture (noun): The hard metallic outer shell surrounding confused school children pointing at the large early period Calder mobile hanging from the ceiling.
  • Architecture (noun): The space between 4 or more glass walls, wherein wealthy people shower.
  • Architecture (noun): Profession wherein ones salary is amusing to the majority of other professionals.
  • Architecture (noun): The homes that hipsters admire.
  • Architecture (noun): Structure approved by banks.
  • Architecture (noun): The touch, the feel of titanium. The fabric of our lives.
  • Architecture (noun): Creativity plus financing minus creativity
  • Architecture (noun): The solid form of angst

Confused? Good. Now we can begin.

 

1 Nord LB Building, Hannover, Germany

Despite its austere purpose ─ that of serving the banking sector of Germany, the Nord LB Building sports pretty green roofs. There are as many as 13 roof areas, thanks to its “stack of containers” design.
Despite its austere purpose ─ that of serving the banking sector of Germany, the Nord LB Building sports pretty green roofs. There are as many as 13 roof areas, thanks to its “stack of containers” design.

The Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (abbreviated to NORD/LB) is a German bank and one of the largest commercial banks in the country.  It is a public corporation owned by the federal states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt with its head office in Hanover and branches in Braunschweig and Magdeburg.

The NordLB is located south of the city-ring and next to the Hanover City Hall. The well-known Stuttgart architectural office Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner designed the office complex which hosts 1,500 employees within more than 75,000sq m. The 70m high glass office tower was once derisively called a “stack of containers” but thankfully, it has now become the pride and joy and quite a veritable landmark of Hanover inhabitants. NordLB was built in 2002.

A view of the “stack of containers” architecture from the inner yard of the building compound.
A view of the “stack of containers” architecture from the inner yard of the building compound.

2 The Bank of Asia a.k.a Robot Building, Bangkok, Thailand

When designing for the Bank of Asia in Bangkok, architect Sumet Jumsai got inspired by his son’s toy robot.
When designing for the Bank of Asia in Bangkok, architect Sumet Jumsai got inspired by his son’s toy robot.
Sumet was going for the “retro” look.
Sumet was going for the “retro” look.

The Robot Building, located in the Sathorn business district of Bangkok, Thailand, houses United Overseas Bank’s Bangkok headquarters. It was designed for the Bank of Asia by architect Sumet Jumsai to reflect the computerization of banking. Apparently, he was inspired by his son’s toy robot.

The architecture is apparently a reaction against neoclassical and high-tech postmodern architecture. The building’s features, such as progressively receding walls, antennas, and eyes, contribute to its robotic appearance and to its practical function. Completed in 1986, the building is one of the last examples of modern architecture in Bangkok.

Sumet wrote that his building “need not be a robot” and that a “host of other metamorphoses” would suffice, so long as they could “free the spirit from the present intellectual impasse and propel it forward into the next century”.

The building was completed in 1987 at a cost of US$10 million.

3 Eden Project United Kingdom

The Eden Project’s geodesic domes. Looks like a facility for the study of UFOs. Pic by Wikipedia.
The Eden Project’s geodesic domes. Looks like a facility for the study of UFOs. Pic by Wikipedia.

The Eden Project, as its name suggests, is a huge indoor rainforest with an abundance of flora set into the hilly terrain of frosty Cornwall, UK. But more than just a huge, tropical garden, Eden as a project and a development, opens a gateway into understanding humankind’s relationships with plants, and an insight into the story of mankind’s dependence on plant life.

The Eden Project is one of the few places where folk in Cornwall can swelter in the humidity of a tropical rainforest.
The Eden Project is one of the few places where folk in Cornwall can swelter in the humidity of a tropical rainforest.

The Eden Project is thus a popular visitor attraction in Cornwall, England. Inside the biomes are plants that are collected from many diverse climates and environments as well as two rainforests ─ one, a tropical rainforest and the other, a Mediterranean forest. The project was conceived by Tim Smit and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw and engineering firm Anthony Hunt and Associates (now part of Sinclair Knight Merz).

4 BMW Welt, Munich, Germany

BMW Welt in Germany, home of your BMW car of course. It's an amazing piece of architecture, dont you think?
BMW Welt in Germany, home of your BMW car of course. It’s an awesome piece of architecture, dont you think? It’s so fluid yet so powerful, it seems almost alive, with “Vroom” power so to speak.

In 2000, the BMW Group decided to build a brand-experience and car-delivery center in close vicinity to the BMW corporate headquarters and the BMW museum. The BMW Welt (in English meaning BMW World) is in the district Am Riesenfeld in Munich, Germany.

The fluid lines in the interior of the BMW Welt.
The fluid lines in the awesome interior of the BMW Welt.

As many as 275 architects participated in an open international competition for the project. In a multi-stage selection procedure, the design by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU came out winning in July 2001.
One of the central design ideas is to expand the existing configuration of the BMW Tower and the museum with an additional element so as to create a spatial, ideal, and identity-forming architectural ensemble. The design proposal by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU consists of a large transparent hall with a sculptural roof and a double cone informed by the relation with the existing company headquarters.

The building seen by day. The structure has an 800kW solar roof.
The building seen by day. The structure has an 800kW solar roof to provide for power needs.

Designed with an 800 kW solar plant on its roof, “the building does not have the boredom of a hall, it is not only a temple, but also a market place and a communication center and meeting place for knowledge transfer”, said architect Prix at the opening ceremony.

5 Air Force Academy Chapel Colorado, United States

The 17 heavenward-pointing spires of United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. What makes this structure so specially amazing is that it was completed in 1962! That’s more than half a century back yet the architecture is not outdated. Pic by Wikipedia.
The 17 heavenward-pointing spires of United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. What makes this structure so specially amazing is that it was completed in 1962! That’s more than half a century back yet the architecture is not outdated. Pic by Wikipedia.

The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel completed in 1962, is the distinguishing feature of the Cadet Area at the United States Air Force Academy north of Colorado Springs. It was designed by Walter Netsch of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago. Construction was accomplished by Robert E. McKee, Inc., of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Originally controversial in its design, the Cadet Chapel has become a classic and highly regarded example of modernist architecture. The Cadet Chapel was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ National Twenty-five Year Award in 1996 and, as part of the Cadet Area, was named a US National Historic Landmark in 2004.

The design successfully articulates the union of the secularity of the armed forces and their spiritual inclinations towards the divine for their earthly purpose.
The design successfully articulates the union of the secularity of the armed forces and their spiritual inclinations towards the divine for their earthly purpose.

The most striking aspect of the Chapel is its row of seventeen spires. The original design called for nineteen spires, but this number was reduced due to budget issues. The structure is a tubular steel frame of 100 identical tetrahedrons, each 75ft (23m) long, weighing five tons, and enclosed with aluminum panels. The tetrahedrons are spaced a foot apart, creating gaps in the framework that are filled with 1-inch-thick (25mm) coloured glass. The tetrahedrons comprising the spires are filled by triangular aluminum panels, while the tetrahedrons between the spires are filled with a mosaic of coloured glass in aluminum frame.

The Cadet Chapel itself is 150ft (46m high, 280ft (85m) long, and 84ft (26m) wide.

An inspired design: Here’s a look at the inside.
An inspired design: Here’s a look at the inside.

And there you have it. We hope you’ve enjoyed admiring all these forms with functions we call architecture. Before we close our two-part series, we leave you with yet another thought on what it is all about.

 

 

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