Architecture, as we know has evolved a lot over the times. As the industrial revolution shook the world some two centuries after the cultural revolution, science and technology arose and made leaping advancements. Technicians and welders, electricians and plumbers, miners, builders, etc progressed with their trades and people found that newer buildings would have to be built to accommodate all these new things: warehouses, storages, mills, laboratories, compact residences, energy plants, etc. Architecture and science once again joined forces to build the world such that it was efficient and appealing, and that brings us to now… now, where we have amazing technology and creative, talented people who are designing wonderful, breathtakingly fascinating structures all over the world.
Let’s take a look at some of them now.
1. Turtle Creek House, Antoine Predock.
Antoine Predock, an American architect from Albuquerque, New Mexico, gained national recognition and several awards for designing the Nelson Fine Arts Center at Arizona State University, but one of his most famous commercial works is the Turtle Creek House built for bird enthusiasts along a natural trail in Texas. Predock is known for his acumen at mixing several styles together and making unique structures that seem disconcertingly authentic.
2. Erasmus Bridge, Ben Van Berkel.
Also called The Swan due to its asymmetrical pylon, the Erasmus Bridge is considered a benchmark in bridge designing primarily because of its use of cables, math and physics, to create a particularly heavy but extremely strong structure that also has a bascule in order to let bigger ships pass.
3. Petronas Twin Towers, Cesar Pelli.
We all know these, perhaps from Shah Rukh Khan’s Don? These twin skyscrapers from Kuala Lumpur were designed by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli, who chose an extremely modern and sophisticated design way back in the 20th century in order to portray the technological growth of Malaysia. Well, I guess you and I both agree that Pelli made his point quite effectively.
4. One World Trade Center, David Childs.
Named after the tower that was destroyed during the September 9 terrorist attacks on New York City, One World Trade Center was redesigned by David Childs in 2012, whose firm also helped build the Burj Khalifa and the Willis Tower. The concept of sustainable architecture was used in this project, by recycling several materials like gypsum.
5. Guggenheim Museum, Frank Gehry.
Often referred to as the most important architect of our age, Frank Gehry is a Canadian-American architect whose designs are so phenomenal that even his private residence is a structural gem. The sparkling in titanium Guggenheim Museum, undulating in waves of silver along a beautiful riverside is one of the few artistic pieces that critics, contemporaries, academics, and the people jointly admire.
6. Aqua, Jeanne Gang.
Jeanne Gang, one of the most famous and environmentally-concerned architects of our generation, used topography– specifically, limestone outcroppings native to the region– to design one of the tallest buildings in Chicago: Aqua.
7. Shenzen Bao’an International Airport, Terminal 3, the Fuksases.
The Fuksas couple were famous for their designs but this airport is one of their most famous and most ambitious projects to date, being almost thrice the size of the other terminals and structured so as to look chic and edgy and still remain large and spacious.
8. Kolumba Museum, Peter Zumthor.
This exquisite collaboration of glass and stone was built by Zumthor near the ruins of the Church of St Columba, which was destroyed during World War 2. The name ‘Kolumba’ comes from the stones that were used during building, light-gray bricks called the Kolumba stones.
9. Burj Al Arab, Tom Wright.
Who doesn’t know the Burj Al Arab? I’m pretty sure you, and everyone else in the world, does. It’s just… magnificent, isn’t it? Wright was told to design a structure that would become a trademark for that place, like the Eiffel Tower is to Paris and the Taj Mahal is to India. So Wright decided to add some Arabian history to his design and made the building in the shape of a traditional Arabian ship, to represent moving towards the future while holding on to your culture.
10. Garden Bridge, Thomas Hearthwick.
London is known for the London Eye, the Gherkin, etc, etc. But this bridge is slightly unusual even by European standards, isn’t it? It’s so pure-looking, and such a nice gesture of giving back to nature, of the perfect fusion of technology and the environment. It hasn’t been built– not yet– but the project has definitely propelled Heatherwick into stardom in his field.
Architecture as we know it today has evolved a lot. We all wonder about our ancestors, right? About our family histories. Have you ever wondered about the ancestry, the history of architecture?
It all started when primitive man decided to settle down and abandon the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, thousands and thousands of years ago. Till then, settlements and lifestyles were nomadic and there was no concept of a house– they would just take shelter in a cave, or out in the open, moving from one place to another in search of food and water. Bizarre to imagine that several millenia later, we can just call the food of our choice to our homes, right?
With the changes in the environment, a recognition of the need for shelter and security, and the realization that rearing animals would prove more fruitful than simply eating them, man found the need to build a house. Settlements were established near riverbanks and coasts where there was enough greenery and flora and fauna to support existence, and as the ages progressed, so did the style of architecture and the philosophies that determined it.
Early on, houses would be made of earth, as found in Mohenjodaro and Harappa. With the stone age, stronger houses built of stones came about. Civilization developed and communities expanded, therefore the concept of town planning was introduced. Agricultural fields, public spaces like grounds and squares, roads, residences, markets and town squares etc had to be built accordingly. There were environmental aspects to be considered, as well as aesthetics, practicality, cost efficiency and pragmatism.
In the very beginning, architecture was supposed to fulfill three requirements: durability, meaning it had to be able to stand the weather and be a reliable structure; utility, meaning it had to be appropriate and efficient enough for its intended usage; and beauty, meaning it had to be pleasing to the eyes and provide aesthetic satisfaction. The perception of beauty changed from age to age, starting with signifying a good, solid build, to reflecting religious values and/or depicting designs related to the endemic supernatural myths like the Greek Pantheon. The cultural renaissance in Europe was the birthplace of the idea of individualism in architecture– society divided into segments and each segment wanted architectural design of its planning, therefore they would all ascribe their buildings to specific architects who fulfilled their wishes. Here architecture grew as an art– it was no longer just the science, the process, and the product of planning and implementing designs. Several beautiful buildings such as the Florence Cathedral, the Church of San Lorenzo, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, and the St Peter’s Basilica, are creations born from the humanist philosophy that emerged during this cultural revolution.
Imagine, we’ve come from mud houses to buildings that touch the sky. Imagine where we’ll be in the next thousand years.