Architecture is art and architects are artists. Though many of us to not have the luxury of being able to design exactly what we would like and really push the boundaries of architecture and design that little bit further, some of us have been lucky. There are a number of truly amazing modern designs and public buildings that resemble gigantic works of art and I am going to introduce just a few worth visiting:
Hundertwasser House, Vienna, Austria: This is a collaboration between renowned artist, architect and writer Friedensreich Hundertwasser and the architect Joseph Krawina. This odd shaped colourful apartment building was erected in the 1980s and is one of the most unusual constructions in Europe. Hundertwasser started off as a painter, but increasingly worked as an architect, much to the delight of the people of Vienna. The house can only be viewed from outside, but just across from it, you will find the Hundertwasser village reflecting the renowned Hundertwasser style. It is considered to be the oasis of Vienna as the house has 200 trees and shrubs growing on small roof sections and balconies.
Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain: It is only fitting, that the building that houses the eclectic art of this master painter reflects his unusual style and art. The roof features what may look like giant eggs to a lay person, but it will all make sense once you enter and appreciate the sheer genius of Dali’s art.
Le Kinemax, Poitiers, Poitou-Charentes, France: Also known as Parc du Futuroscope, Le Kinemax resembles the shape of a rock crystal, the mirror facade glistens in the sun and inside, visitors can experience a plethora of cinematography, 3D, 4D and many other forms of audio and visual technology. Le Kinemax was built in the 1980 and designed by Denis Laming. Modern shapes, materials and stunning design make the Futuroscope an architectural masterpiece.
Kunsthaus, Graz, Austria: Tenderly nicknamed the friendly alien, the architects Colin Fournier and Peter Cook created a unique structure that can, amazingly, be altered inside and out depending on what art exhibition is on display. The Kunsthaus was constructed in the early 2000s and hosts the works of many world-renowned artists throughout the year.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain: Stunningly located on the banks of the Nervion River in Bilbao and christened by King Juan Carlos I in the late 1990, the Guggenheim Museum is ultra modern in design, combining titanium, limestone and glass and its architect, Frank Gehry, has created an impressive structure, playing with light and materials and achieving an impact like few other buildings. The Museum has famously been featured in a James Bond movie and continues to fascinate visitors from all around the world.
Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Germany: After a seemingly endless chain of delays, problems and disruptions, the Elbphilharmonie, located in the Harbour area of Hamburg has finally opened its doors. While the lower part of the building blends in with the red-brick style harbour warehouses, the upper part of this concert venue is ultra modern. Herzog and de Meuron have created a water-like upper structure, the roof resembles the crest of a gentle wave and the construction in its entirety is truly stunning. The internal architecture is just as amazing and concert goers will be blown away by exceptional design, sound quality and atmospheric ambience. This is modern architecture at its best.
While ancient architecture and historic buildings are celebrated and continue to fascinate, perhaps modern architecture deserves equal praise. Perhaps in times gone by, governments and rulers made more of an effort to create beautiful structures for public use. Perhaps planning laws, lack of funding or an unwillingness to allow for the construction of truly beautiful if somewhat unusual buildings have constrained today’s architects.
Perhaps it is necessary to include architecture when speaking about visual art and educate young and old about the need for innovation, creativity and style. When cities are expanded, little consideration is given to the creation of beautiful, useful public structures and perhaps that needs to change if we want to build livable cities, towns and villages.
All of the buildings I have mentioned are must-see modern sights and there are many, many more that should make it into tourist guides all over the world. Let’s start celebrating and promoting modern architecture and recognize the genius therein.