This year saw a number of innovative, unique and eye-catching examples of architecture being unveiled in countries all over the world. While some proved to be modern and forward-thinking, others used elements of traditional design in clever ways in order to create a striking aesthetic. With that in mind, Lonely Planet Travel News has rounded up a selection of inspirational architecture from 2017.
Designed by Dutch architecture firm MVRDV in collaboration with local architects TUPDI, the Tianjin Binhai Library is a futuristic 33,700-square-metre cultural centre with a spherical auditorium resembling an eye. Surrounded by bookcases that stretch from floor to ceiling, a series of undulating shelves serve important functions by creating stairs, seating and a layered ceiling while also creating the space to hold 1.2 million books.
Opened last September in Billund, Denmark, the birthplace of LEGO, the eye-catching Bjarke Ingels-designed LEGO house has already proven to be a feast for the senses. Measuring 12,000 square metres, the building is constructed from 21 interlocking blocks, and features a large keystone sitting at the very top that has been designed to the exact proportions and style of a 2 x 4 LEGO brick. The facade is covered with clay tiles to give the illusion that the building is made completely of LEGO bricks, while the site features a large store, three different restaurants, conference facilities and a 2000-square-metre space open to the public in the outer area.
Built between 1883 and 1885 as the first house ever designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, the ever-striking Casa Vicens is by no means new. However, 2017 saw the Unesco World Heritage Site opening as a museum instead of a private residence, following three years of extensive renovations. While the house was built in a traditional Catalan style, Gaudi was given a huge amount of creative freedom with the result being something entirely new and unexpected, and Casa Vicens is also considered one of the first art nouveau buildings.
Originally slated to open in 2012, and then 2016, after years of waiting, the highly-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi opened to tourists on 11 November. The bold vision was designed by Jean Nouvel and features a striking dome made of 7850 unique stars creating a dazzling effect. Based in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, the new structure is 180 metres in diameter and weighs approximately 7500 tonnes.
September saw the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora opening in South Africa, located inside a historic grain silo. The nine-floor art museum was designed by London’s Heatherwick Studio, and has brand new galleries and an atrium that were all carved from the forty-two tubes that were inside the building, giving it a honeycomb look. Once the tallest building in South Africa, the structure now includes 6000 square metres of exhibition space in 80 gallery spaces, a rooftop sculpture garden, state-of-the-art storage and conservation areas, a bookshop, a restaurant, bar, and reading rooms.
Located in Aalborg on the largest fjord landscape in the country, the 100,000-square-foot Vestre Fjord Park was unveiled last summer. The vision behind the project is to encourage direct contact to the fjord by establishing better accessibility from land and sea. Designed by Adept architects, the park strives to be a balance between the natural landscape and the activities and functions of daily users. The park is divided into several smaller landscape areas, each with their own identity and character. It includes a beach zone that embraces open-air swimming and has a springboard for diving, a woods and wetlands area that has vegetation, and a plain built for physical activity.
The 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize was awarded to the Victorian pier on the East Sussex coast, which has been re-imagined as a contemporary multi-purpose space after a devastating fire in 2010. Built in 1872, Hastings Pier was a popular pleasure pier that was famous for musical acts, but it had become neglected and closed in 2008 following storm damage. Designed by London-based architects dRMM, the vast pier deck is now suitable for large-scale concerts, markets and public gatherings, and the new timber-clad visitors’ centre makes a feature of the pier’s old scorched wood cladding.