Unreal 21st C buildings from around the world

Posted by Peter McConnell on 25 February 2014

Tags: Architecture, Construction, Buildings, Inspiration

Federation Square, Melbourne Australia, 2000

Image source: Vincentq

The design of Federation Square was the result of an architectural design competition and cost approximately $467 million to construct. The main materials used in the building are zinc, glass and sandstone tiles arranged over a metal frame in a complex geometric design. This angular exterior is made completely of scalene triangles in an aperiodic tiling pattern. This building design polarised opinion around Australia – you either love it or hate it!

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandrina Egypt, 2002

Image source: Ting Chen

Image source: David Stanley

In 1989 it was announced that the original Bibliotheca Alexandrina would be rebuilt by Norwegian architects Snøhetta. The new version of the library was designed as a simple disk (reflecting the Egyptian hieroglyphs of the sun), is 160 metres in diameter and spans from 15.8 metres below the ground to 37 metres above. The slanting roof of the main library not only looks incredible but is also slightly glazed and has been specifically designed to catch the angle of sunlight at optimum levels during the year.

Atomium, Brussels Belgium, renovated in 2004

Image source: Martijn Munneke

This stainless steel building has got to be one of our favourites. Standing 102 metres tall, this structure is made up of stainless steel spheres that are connected together to construct one unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times! The Atomium was originally built in 1958 and was renovated in 2004 when the faded aluminium sheets were replaced by stainless steels. So how do you get around inside the incredible building? Well, the tubes connecting the giant spheres enclose escalators and a lift that allow you to move through 5 spheres that offer public spaces and exhibits. Yes, it’s actually a functional building!

Reversible Destiny Lofts, Tokyo Japan, 2005

Image source: Kotaro Iwaoka

The Reversible Destiny Lofts are not for people who want to relax. The designers, Arakawa and Madeline Gins, created the houses to keep people young by making them challenging to live in. The purpose is to make people “use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium,” says Ms Gins. Their website also challenges you to step outside comfort and challenge yourself. Have a look here.

Piano Violin House, China, 2007

Image source: Dyl186

We couldn’t look at unreal 21st C designs without including China’s Piano Violin House. The Violin serves as the entry point to the building leading you into the piano via escalator. The building contains displays of a variety of city plans and development projects to encourage interest in the recently developed area.

Beijing National Stadium, China, 2008

Image source: Bernt Rostad

Image source: Edwin Lee

The visually impressive Beijing National Stadium is made up of two independent structures – an outer steel frame and a red concrete seating bowl inside it. It was built as part of the program of infrastructure for the 2008 Summer Olympics, hosted by the city. Seeking to design something new but traditional, the architects studied Chinese ceramics, leading them to the ‘nest’ design. The building took 17,000 construction workers and 11,000 tons of structural steel to make.

Cayan Tower, Dubai, 2013

Image source: J We

The impressive Cayan Tower was designed by world renowned Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). The building curves 90 degrees to ensure all apartments have a view of the sea or marina – 90 degrees! Titanium metal panels combined with screen panels also ensure direct sunlight does not bother the residents living in the tower.

Chinese Coin Building, Guangzhou China, 2013

Image source: Gizmodo

Image source: Cultural Colectiva

In 2013, the 33 floor, 138 metre high headquarters of the Guangdong Plastics Exchange combines the design of an ancient Chinese jade disc with modern office buildings. With 85, 000 square metres of office space, the building is the tallest circular building in the world. The design is inspired by the strong tradition and value of jade discs, reflecting the royal symbol of the Chinese dynasty and the long-standing feng shui tradition.