Architecture is a word that conjures up contrasting opinions depending on who you ask. For some, it’s a word that refers to art, while for others, its ties are more closely linked to practicality.
When those two worlds meet, it can create a space that is as visually appealing as it’s useful. Some of the most iconic buildings in the world, such as the Sydney Opera House or the Empire State Building, are classic examples of this.
To help spur your creativity, we’ve come up with a list of three structures that have been widely heralded for their innovation, beauty and usefulness by members of the public and critics alike.
1. The Lotus Temple (pictured above)
The Lotus Temple, which is situated in New Delhi, has gone on to become one of the most visited monuments in the world since its competition in 1986, with visitor numbers higher than the Taj Mahal.
Furiburz Sabha, the architect behind the design, chose the shape of a lotus flower for his blueprint due to its links to a number of faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.
The exterior of the structure is made entirely of white marble, which was sourced from Mount Penteclicus in Greece. The nine pools located around the outside of the building form the ‘flower’s’ leaves when viewed from above.
Up to 2,500 people can visit the temple to pray at one time, with the central cone reaching some 40 metres in height.
2. The SAHMRI Building
Home to over 600 researchers from around the globe, the SAHMRI building in Adelaide, South Australia, is changing the way architecture and the environment intertwine with one another.
The building‘s exterior is made up of thousands of different sized diamond-shaped facades that are designed to react to the sunlight’s glare and heat, as well provide protection from the elements.
Architects Woods Bagot also designed the facility so that the pressure differences between the building and its surroundings help cause a natural cycle of outdoor airflow through indoor spaces. Any rain water is also collected and reused throughout the 25,000 square metre facility.
The ‘cheese grater’, as it has been affectionately nicknamed by local residents, is also unique in the way that its main architecture is lifted from the ground. This approach has helped to create an open ground plane around the structure that allows visitors to get a unique perspective of the design.
3. The Guggenheim Museum
Few buildings built in the last century have managed to evoke such widespread praise as the Guggenheim Museum. Built in Bilbao, Spain, in the mid-90s, the museum has been described by Vanity Fair magazine as the most “significant structure” of the last 30 years.
The building, which was designed by American architect Frank Gehry, is comprised of over 33,000 titanium sheets that twist and curve in a way that was unlike anything else of its time.
Despite being used as an exhibition space for an array of artists, the building itself has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with a recent visitor survey showing that 82% of tourists had come to the city to see the building.
Such was the popularity of the design, Gehry decided to incorporate elements of it into his next build: the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.