Where architects imagine what the skyscrapers of tomorrow will look like. Hundreds of architects entered and offered up concepts for buildings, and they are some of the most science-fictional ideas we’ve seen in a while. Just a quick sample of some honorable mentions: a skyscraper that floats on a giant balloon, a shield that harnesses heat from volcanoes, and a plan for building cities inside meteorite crash sites.
Admittedly, this contest is more of a thought experiment; it’s not very likely any of these are ever going to be built. (Hopefully the one for rebuilding after the apocalypse isn’t necessary, anyway.) But still, like the best sci-fi, it gives a glimpse of the future based on technology we’re near now.
Cloud-piercing towers of glass. Stone cathedrals and churches. Slabs of brutalist concrete. Taking a walk through London is like immersing yourself in a history of architecture. Our list of the city’s 50 best buildings celebrates this unique mix. We asked a group of experts to tell us about the London architecture that amazes them. The results capture the essence of the real London in a way that a guidebook’s ‘best bits’ never could.
In fact, our top 50 is filled with under-the-radar stuff: pubs, tube stations, council estates. Perhaps this is because – thanks to Instagram – we’re fatigued with seeing endless artsy photos of the usual suspects. And in an era of austerity and the property crisis, it makes sense to celebrate the beauty of the ordinary buildings lived in and used by ordinary Londoners, some of which are at risk of the wrecking ball. Our list demands that you get out and walk around your city, and take a look at some of its more humble buildings as well as its architectural icons.
One of the most important buildings in the city, the 15th century Silk Market, is a World Heritage Site and considered one of the most wonderful examples of non-religious Gothic architecture in Europe. The interior is meant to represent paradise, with its soaring columns symbolising palm trees reaching towards the sky – or roof – which was originally painted blue. Far less pleasant but equally fascinating are the stone gargoyles perched around the exterior, which are by turn pornographic, nausea-inducing or just completely bizarre.
Valencia is packed with stunning architecture. In the city centre, Romanesque structures sit comfortably alongside everything from late Gothic gargoyles to Modernist facades, while the Turia riverside is home to the famously futuristic City of Arts and Sciences complex. It’s hard to pick favourites in a place like this, but here are just a few of the impressive buildings that you really have to see for yourself.
We have decided not to die,” declared architects Shusaku Arakawa and Madeleine Gins in the title of the book they published in 1997, arguing that lopsided, physically challenging spaces would awaken residents’ instincts and allow them to live better, longer – even forever. Head out to Tokyo’s leafy suburb of Mitaka and see their rainbow-coloured Reversible Destiny Lofts. The nine apartments in this complex have uneven floors and rounded walls, awkward light switches, power sockets in the ceilings, and no cupboards. Some of the units are available for short-term rent, but watch your step!