Modern architecture is now pushing the boundaries of science and creativity – Not only they become a focal point in a city, but also challenge physics with innovative shapes and designs. More, they have functional, eco-friendly, and disaster-resistant. So I invited some of my fellow travel bloggers to share their experience with some of the World’s new modern architecture all over the world. I will kick off with my pick – the National Museum of Qatar.
National Museum of Qatar
Qatar is a wealthy small country in the Middle East, and Doha, the capital city, is a busy transiting hub between Europe and Asia with its outstanding, world-class Qatar Airways. The Museum of Islamic Art is a landmark of the city’s waterfront, opened in 2008; and the National Museum of Qatar is the latest addition to the city’s dramatic skyline, opening on March 28, 2019.
The museum building, shaped like a “desert rose”, was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, and took 10 years to build. Jean’s previous work includes the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and NMoQ quickly becomes a new hit in his work portfolio. He took inspiration from “desert rose” – it is not exactly a flower, it is a colloquial name given to rose-like formations of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which include abundant sand grains. The museum was designed based on its unique shape, and it looks like a stack of rose petals on the ground from above. The building consists of 11 exhibition halls and it takes the audience through the journey the nation’s history, from the establishment of Qatar to the people’s lives and culture.
The exhibits include video, arts, and music; and the “Pearl Carpet of Baroda” is definitely a highlight. This is a Syrian and Iraqi national treasure and the most incredible carpet ever created by human hand, embedded with over 1.5 million seed pearls, and diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphire.
Marina Bay Sands
Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands is one of the world’s most instantly recognizable buildings. Famed as one of the most exclusive (and expensive) hotels in the world, Marina Bay Sands is much more than a hotel. An iconic symbol of modern Singapore, Marina Bay Sands has become a tourist destination in its own right.
Built entirely on reclaimed land, Marina Bay Sands is a marvel of design and engineering. One of the tallest buildings in Singapore, the unique building consists of three enormous concave towers connected by a huge cantilevered roof that resembles a giant surfboard.
The curved roof hangs over the edge of the north tower and is also home to the resort’s world-famous infinity pool. At 150 meters in length, Marina Bay Sands’ infinity pool is the longest elevated pool in the world. Though the pool is only open to guests of the hotel, the observation deck at the northern end of the roof is open to the public. The views from the observation deck are sensational, offering a 360-degree view across all of Singapore.
Marina Bay Sands towers over Singapore’s Downtown and Central Business District and sits alongside one of Singapore’s other star attractions, Gardens by the Bay. The hotel may be the crown jewel but there is much more to Marina Bay Sands. The huge resort is also home to casinos, two theatres, a shopping mall, and a museum.
James’s Blog: https://whereyourebetween.com/
Erin & Ryan
The Shanghai Tower is the world’s current second-largest tower. At 632m tall everything around it looks minuscule by comparison – even the neighboring Shanghai World Financial Center building (the bottle-opener as it’s known by locals) at 492m tall! The Shanghai Tower is known to locals as “the dancing lady”. The tower’s circular, asymmetric and tapered shape is, in fact, a deliberate design feature to withstand the occasional typhoon winds that batter Shanghai as well as saving $58 million in structural materials as compared with a traditionally square-shaped tower.
Visiting the Shanghai tower you can see an excellent exhibition on worldwide tall towers on its ground floor, covering the criteria necessary to make it as a top tall tower, current tall towers compared for height, and future tall towers to come. At the top of “the dancing lady,” you can see Shanghai spread out to the horizon in all directions including the nearby tall buildings of its modern financial district of Lujiazui below. A visit to this tower really puts into perspective just how large Shanghai, a city of 24 million, is. You really can’t see the end of it!
Erin & Ryan’s Blog: www.downbubble.com/instagram-spots-in-shanghai/
City of Arts and Science
Containing six different structures and covering 350,000 square meters, the City of Arts and Sciences is an astonishing cultural complex in Valencia, Spain. It was designed by the architects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela and cost about €1 billion to build.
Amongst the complex’s buildings, you can visit the Oceanographic which is Europe’s biggest aquarium, the Principe Felipe Science Museum, and the Hemispheric which is a planetarium and an IMAX cinema. Two other buildings are the Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofia which is a performings arts center and the Agora which hosts different events. The last one is the Umbracle, an open structure of arches covering a beautiful garden.
Apart from its impressive size, what makes the City of Arts and Sciences so unique is its undeniably stunning futuristic architecture. Exploring the complex, it feels like you’ve been transported into another world. So, if you’re looking for the perfect place to start your morning or spend an afternoon, this is it. Thanks to its unique appearance, it’s also an amazing photography location, but if you want to capture it without the crowds, be sure to get there early in the morning.
Entrance fees vary from museum to museum, and you can purchase a combined card or wander around the complex for free.
Or’s Blog: mypathintheworld.com/
The Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart is located in the city of Stuttgart in southern Germany. Designed by Eun Young Yi, the building was constructed in 2011 after being moved to Mailander Platz. The minimalist style building is constructed as a cube design and looks like building blocks on top of one another. The white and gray cubes are made of glass and provide a level of depth when looking at it. In the evening the building emits a faint glow to passerby’s providing for a pleasant atmosphere.
The building’s interior is of the most modern and minimalist design with white lines, specifically placed geometric stairs and flow from level to level. Books aligned along the wall and the small white cubes seats create a picture perfect and organized library. The center of the room extends from floor to the top of the 9-story building with a skylight overhead, providing for a great view down from every floor.
The library has children’s rooms, a music library an event space on the ground floor and a café with a Skydeck at the very top where visitors can enjoy coffee over the beautiful views of the city.
The central location of Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart provides plenty of daily visitors, due to its location right next to Milano Mall, a newly designed and modern mall that contains hundreds of stores and draws thousands of visitors every day. Along the outside of the library are several fountains and sitting areas where visitors play ball, splash around and enjoy desserts from the nearby cafes or ice cream in the summer.
Diana’s Blog: theelusivefamily.com
If you’re looking for the most beautiful and interesting modern architecture around the world, the Shard in London has to feature on your bucket list. Located minutes away from Tower Bridge, with its 309.7 meters in height the Shard is the tallest building in the UK and in the European Union.
The Shard was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and can be easily spotted from any corner in London. There is a viewing deck on the 70th floor which you can access for 24 – 32 GBP (depending on how early you book the tickets) and enjoy the stunning views over London.
There are also a number of bars and restaurants at the high floors of the Shard, while they might be slightly lower than the viewing deck these are free to access and you can still enjoy a killer view over London. While the food and drinks are a bit pricey (15 – 20 GB for a cocktail) these aren’t unreasonable considering the location and London prices more generally. The bars and restaurants all have different styles and cuisines, ranging from afternoon tea to fine Chinese dining.
Greta’s Instagram: instagram.com/gretastravels
Sky Garden is one of the staple skyscrapers of London, often referred to by the name of “Walkie-Talkie” by the locals, due to its shape. Anyone can visit the Sky Garden and enjoy the tropical environment from the top floors, have a drink with a view or simply watch the sunset from above. The SkyGarden, located at 20 Fenchurch Street, in the City of London, is one of the popular places for both locals and tourists to go in the evenings. The entrance is free, but you do need to book a time slot in advance on their website. From the Sky Garden, you do get one of the best views in London.
The Sky Garden However has quite a story. During its construction phase, because of its curved shape, the £200 million building designed by Rafael Viñoly, reflected the intense sun rays towards the pavement, causing damages to several cars parked below but also to shops. The bright light reflected has melted car parts, caused door mats to catch fire, smashed tiles, even fried eggs in an experiment conducted by a local. Needless to say, the local business owners were not happy. The council even had to close the parking spots underneath the building, to prevent further damages.
This has caused the developer to fit the building with sunshades that deflect the rays of the sun, to prevent the glare from damaging anything on the ground. A few years later, the building has been involved in another controversy, some people stating that because of it tunnels of wind have been created inside the town.
Joanna’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/oana_roua/
You’ve probably heard of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London but did you know that Scotland has its very own V&A? This design museum, located next to the river Tay in Dundee, opened its doors in September 2018 and is a wonderful architectural addition to the town’s waterfront. It’s the first building in the UK to have been designed by Kengo Kuma, an award-winning Japanese architect and it has certainly put Dundee firmly on the tourist map!
We visited last December and fell in love with the exterior of the building – clean, sharp, modern, minimalist lines. The museum really stands out on the waterfront, an area that has been heavily redeveloped, and provides the perfect backdrop to some fun Instagram shots. It can easily be reached on foot from the town center or by train as it’s located a stone’s throw from Dundee’s train station. You can also combine a visit to the Discovery (tall ship) which is right next to the museum.
The inside of the building has had mixed reviews from visitors, however, we enjoyed the paid “Ocean & Liners” exhibition as well as the free gallery that showcases some of the best Scottish design including some of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work. Our kids had fun following the treasure trail and getting their booklet stamped as they made their way around the gallery not to mention, yummy cake in the café. There is also an exterior viewing platform that provides stunning views across the river and the bridge. If you’re a fan of architecture, the Dundee V&A is definitely a must on your Scottish itinerary!
Gillian’s Blog: www.scotlandbucketlist.com
City of Fashion and Design
La Cité la Mode et du Design is a building dedicated to the Fashion and Design in Paris. It is located on the Left Bank of the Seine, in Paris 13, a site once occupied by the river docks. This arrondissement of Paris is one of the lesser known districts of Paris but it is worth the visit, at least for Paris second timers.
The project was designed in 2005 by the architects Dominique Jakob and Brendan Macfarlane. They won the architecture contest to convert the former Magasins Généraux into a “city” dedicated to fashion and design. The building was finally inaugurated in 2009 with great success.
The most impressive part of this building is definitely its long, organic façade, parallel to the river, and made of steel and glass. It is inspired by the river’s movement and the green color is said to represent the river’s aquatic reflections. At night, the lighting brings the building to life with a play of light from a variety of sources, in a multitude of colors.
Inside, the building has some private parts such as offices and public spaces used for temporary exhibitions. It has also a nice rooftop bar and vegetal terrace, perfect for a drink or two in the summer.
Because of the length of its facade, La Cité de la Mode et du Dessin is best admired from the River Seine, especially from the Seine River Cruises in Paris.
Elisa’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/worldinparis/
MAAT (The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology)
The MAAT, one of Lisbon’s newest museums and modern projects of architecture, isn’t just another art space. Designed by British architect Amanda Levete, this futuristic building is home to a museum of art, architecture, and technology. And a work of art itself. Located in the district of Belém, one of the most beautiful Lisbon neighborhoods, the MAAT offers also great views of the Tagus River and the city on its back.
This is actually one of my favorite things about the building: the way it connects with the river without losing sight of the city. Besides having a walk by the river and admiring the MAAT from outside, you can also go inside and visit national and international exhibitions by contemporary artists, architects, and thinkers.
The MAAT is part of a bigger campus that includes also the old Tagus Power Station, one of the most visited museums in Portugal, and a landscape project by Lebanese architect Vladimir Djurovic. Entrance for both the MAAT and the Tagus Power Station is free of charge on the first Sunday of every month.
Popular with locals and visitors alike, the MAAT brought new life to Belém’s riverfront and it’s already an iconic symbol of Lisbon in the 21st century.
One World Trade Center
New York City, USA
One World Trade Center, as it is officially called, was built to replace the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City. It was briefly called the “Freedom Tower” and although the name has changed, the sentiment behind the nomenclature remains. The footprint of the tower equals the combined square footage of the twin towers’ footprints, and the skyscraper towers over the 911 museum, the new Calatrava transit center and the water fountains that fill the actual footprints of the fallen towers. It is also the tallest building in the United States.
However, it is more than just a symbol of what was lost and of the spirit of New Yorkers. It is also a fascinating example of modern architecture. The building is square at the base, but soon splits into eight triangles and ends in another square at the top, angled differently from the base, and is finally topped with an enormous spire. It is covered in glass and designed to look somewhat ephemeral whilst actually being one of the safest and most technologically advanced buildings in the world. The building has a concrete core that goes deep into the earth. The three-foot thick slabs can resist winds, earthquakes, and bombs. The fire protection system is the best in the world and even the elevators are specially protected. This building is here to stay.
It is also one of the greenest buildings. Many of the materials used to construct the tower are recycled; 75% of the waste produced by the building and its occupants will be recycled; there are rainwater collection tanks for cooling and irrigation; and water consumption reduction technology. Even the glass structure is designed to be greener, clearer and more efficient than usual glass buildings.
You can visit One World Trade easily. The 60-foot tall lobby is a stunning introduction. Then take the elevators up to the observatory for spectacular views of New York Harbor and Manhattan. This is a highlight of any visit to New York City!
Vessel at Hudson Yards
New York City, USA
In March of 2019, Vessel became New York City’s newest addition to its storied landscape. Vessel, is a 16-story structure in the midst of the new buildings of Hudson Yards on the city’s westernmost coast.
Vessel is the brainchild of London architect Thomas Heatherwick. It was designed in conjunction with the 5-acre Hudson Yards Public Square, designed by Thomas Woltz. The structure has 2,500 steps, 154 flights, and 80 landings that stretch from its base to its apex. The total length of stairs exceeds one mile (1.6km).
The jungle-gym-like copper-clad steps resemble an Escher design with staircases going up that actually look like they are going down. They are designed to hold up to 1,000 people at a time. The architect said that he intended for visitors to climb and explore the structure as if it were an actual jungle gym. Once you reach the top of the structure, the views of the Hudson River and surrounding areas are stunning. Beautiful views do not come cheap. The structure ended up costing almost 200 million, more than half of the original estimate.
The day of the official opening of Hudson Yards the lines to climb the structure snaked around the block and had a waiting time of over one hour.
Talek’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvb79FxAFRR/
Oscar Niemeyer Museum
The Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba is affectionately known by the locals as the “Eye Museum” or “Niemeyer’s Eye”. This is because of the unusual shape of one of its buildings, which does, in fact, look like a human eyeball. The main building of the museum first opened in 2002, and at that time it was known simply as the New Museum.
The eye-shaped annex was constructed the following year, and this is when it was renamed to honor its designer, Oscar Niemeyer, who completed the project when he was 95 years old. The eye building is connected to the rest of the museum by an underground walkway and is surrounded by a shimmering pool of water.
Niemeyer is Brazil’s most famous architect and is best known for designing the city of Brasília, the purpose-built capital of Brazil. Brasília is filled with some of the best examples of modernist architecture in the world. When viewed from above, the layout of the city streets themselves resembles an airplane or a bird in flight.
The Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba is one of the largest museums in South America. It hosts various exhibits that rotate throughout the year, with a focus on design, architecture and the visual arts. If you’re here around lunchtime, head across the street to enjoy the large buffet of vegetarian and vegan Brazilian food at Sorella. And be sure to also visit the Bosque do Papa (Papal Forest), which is just next door to the museum.
Wendy’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/nomadic_vegan