I don’t always travel, but I love to see the world, especially through other peoples eyes. The obvious medium for this is photography. Taking photos of buildings and architecture is a skill and there are a few people at the peak of their trade who always inspire me. Here is a list of 20 top photogrpahers and architects whose eyes you should try seeing the world through on instagram.
The simplest thing can make a landscape come to life. A well placed sculpture can create a focal point that brings tourism and locals to a place that was previously overlooked. The idea behind this is obvious, but it takes a lot of courage to take the first step, because there is so much that can go wrong. That’s why we should celebrate when a local authority is brave enough to experiment with new ideas, work with up and coming artists and create something that is really eye catching. A case in point is the beachfront of Bondi Beach where they hold an annual festival and sculpture exhibition. Here are a few of the highlights of the 2013 festival.
An Infinite Staircase
Designed by David McCraken, Diminish and Ascend is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the festival. The steel welded staircase gives the impression of an infinite path into the sky. The illusion works best if you stand in front of the piece. It’s a great concept, which has been well implemented.
Weighing in at two tonnes’, Acrylic Bowl is a big idea based on a simple concept; fill a circular see through bowl with water and take a look at the world from another angle. It’s a nice idea, an obvious talking point and something that drew the crowds attention at this years event. A great example of simple concept and design creating magical real world results.
Mirador Stands was the brainchild of two alumna from the faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning from the University of Sydney. The piece is a 3.5 meter wooden dome that is lined with mirrors that reveals a shifting reflection of the world around it. The design is reminiscent of the large domes of the Eden Project in Cornwall.
Designed by Qian Sihua and standing at over two meters tall and bright red, Bubble no.5 was turning the heads of anyone that past it. The sculpture, which is of a red head blowing bubblegum, stood at the headland of Bondi Beach. The playful figure, of the boys blowing a bubble, quickly became the most photographed exhibit of the festival. There is a lesson here; be bright, be bold and be original and you can get away with charging $38,000 for your piece of art.
Reminiscent of works by Banksy and almost like a single scene from a 1960′s comic brought to life, View TM was a sculpture placed at a picturesque spot between Bondi and Tamarama. Set against the backdrop of the open ocean, the golden beach and Bronte and Tamarama, View TM certainly lives up to the description. Ironically, most photographers now focus on what’s in the foreground instead of the beautiful view.
With rapid urbanisation and a booming economy, China’s cities have become a showcase of architectural experimentation and inovation. It is not surprising, the rate of urbanisation in China has been staggering. Over 200 million people have moved from the countryside to the cities since the 1950′s and it is expected that 200 million more will migrate from rural to urban areas by 2050. As people move in, the skyline of China’s biggest cities go ever upwards.
China most recently showed off its modern face to the world at the summer olympics, which became famous for the Birds Nest Stadium, National Aquatics Center and National Indoor Stadium. Look a little deeper and you will find that local businesses and regional government, flush with cash from the export boom, have been commissioning ever more impressive designs that are the equal to anything on show during the Olympics. Here are five of the best examples of modern design from around China.
The Piano House
The Piano House is a modern eye catching building designed to attract outside investment to Hui Province. You enter the building through the grand violin lobby and then take the elevator into the Grand Piano. Within the piano are a series of displays where you can look at development projects happening within the region.
The unique design of China’s Central Television Station has made the building an immediate tourist attraction. The building, which looks like two inverted L’s attached together, is 52 floors high and is surrounded by parkland. As a result of a fire that ravaged the building shortly after its opening, the building is not yet open to the public.
National Center for Performing Art
The National Centre for Performing Arts, which can seat 5,452 people, was designed by the French architect Paul Andreu. The building is an elipsoid dome of titanium and glass that is surrounded by an artificial lake. The modern design caused quite a lot of controversy when it was first announced, but fit well with the image of the country that China wanted to portray to the world during the 2008 Olympics.
Shanghai has one of the most impressive skylines of any city in China. It is the Eastern equivalent of New York, with skyscrapers lining the waters edge. The most impressive of these modern structures is the Shanghai Tower that twists up to a height of 632 meters.
The new Sheraton luxury hotel and resort looks like an old school horseshoe magnet that has come to Earth. The stunning non-linear design is best viewed at night, when the buildings outside lights are turned on and reflect off the calm waters of the lake. The hotel was designed by Chinese architect Ma Yanson.
Only one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World remains (it’s the Great Pyramid of Giza). Yet many ancient monuments have stayed the test of time and they are not just to be found in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean. Here is a list of five of the best and most impressive man made monuments from around the world that should be on every persons bucket list.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China was built, extended, improved upon and repaired over 1,100 years. The wall was created to protect the Chinese Empire from attacks by the Xiognu tribes. The majority of the original wall has been destroyed and much of what is left comes from the Ming Dynasty. At 8,851 km, the Great Wall is one of the few objects that can be seen from space with the naked eye.
Located in the highlands of Peru, with incredible views of the surrounding countryside, Machu Picchu is the most famous Inca ruin. The name means old peak in Quechua, which is fitting given its location on a mountain peak overlooking the Sacred Valley. Although it is often referred to as the Lost City, Machu Picchu was abandoned almost a century before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum built by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. The site is one of the most famous and indeed beautiful tombs in the world, consisting of the central mausoleum surrounded by ornamental gardens, pools and outlying buildings.
Known as the “Rose Red City,” and commonly associated with Indiana Jones, Petra is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Jordan. The whole city was carved into the cliff face of the Wadi Musa Canyon centuries ago by the Nabataean civilisation, that became rich off of taxes collected from local traders following the old silk and spice routes between China and Europe.
Angkor was the capital of the Khmer empire and the region is the site of dozens of temple complexes, palaces and administrative buildings. The most famous of the temples is Angkor Wat, which has come to symbolise Cambodia (not only does it appear on the national flag, but it is also the countries prime tourist destination).
The desire to collect beautiful things might make you a hoarder, but if you choose to share your collection with the public, it makes for an unmissable museum. Here is a list of five of the best art museums in the planet that have hold some of the largest and most important collections on the planet.
The Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is as famous for the eye catching design of the building as it is for the museums vast collection of modern art. The twisting titanium clad museum is a graceful mix of curves and angular lines. Inside the Museum there are enormous collections of works of art from artists from around the world.
Opened to the public in the 16th century, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the oldest art museums on the planet. Museum holds a collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures from the finest masters of that era. The exhibition includes such famous works as The Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli and sculptures by Leonardo da Vinci.
Located in St. Petersburg, the Hermitage Museum was founded by Catherine the Great and was opened in 1764. The museums exhibitions are a mixture of displays of art and culture. The collection includes works from all over Europe by artists as diverse as Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Reubens and Michealangelo. The whole collection is exhibited over a complex of six historic buildings.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – often abbreviated to The Met – is located on the eastern side of Central Park in New York. The museum, opened in 1872, holds one of the largest collections of Art in the US. The entire collection is composed of more than two million works of art from every field. Given the size of its collection, The Met also organises traveling exhibitions.
The Louvre is located in Paris and was a former royal palace that was converted into a museum in 1793. The museum is one of the largest in the world and is easily recognised with its distinct glass pyramid. The exhibits are diverse and come from all over the world – a fairly large portion was collected by Napoleon when he created his brief empire that stretched across continental Europe and into North Africa. The most famous exhibit in the entire collection is the Mona Lisa.
The capital of the UAE is one of the most exciting places in the world for architects. The country is open, inovative and willing to experiment with new ideas, styles and structures. A combination of wealth, space and a desire to create a place for itself as a centre for international commerce in the Middle East has resulted in the creation of some of the most eye catching structures of the last decade. Here are a few personal highlights for anyone visiting the city.
The Aldar Headquarters building is a breakthrough in inovative design. Constructed of glass and steel, the 23 story building is flat and circular. The external steel supports mean that the building has almost no internal column supports, ensuring that wasted space inside the building is at a minimum.
Sheikh Zayed Bridge
The Sheikh Zayed Bridge turns a necessary piece of infrastructure into an eye catching architectural attraction. The curved design gives the arched bridge a fluid form and is supposed to evoke the image of the undulating sand dunes that take up most of this desert nation. At night, the bridge is lit up by dynamic lighting.
At first glance the Viceroy Hotel looks similar to the Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham. However, that is where the comparison ends, because the Viceroy is an ultra modern five star luxury hotel. The outer layer of the shell like structure lights up the night sky in a rainbow of colours. Given its location over the Grand Prix circuit, this hotel becomes especially busy during the racing season.
Capital Gates Building
The Capital Gates Building has the. Guiness World Record for being the “world’s furthest leaning man made tower.” The 35 story building is angled 18 degrees Westwards, meaning it inclines more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. With so much structural stress, the foundations of the building have been driven 30 meters into the ground.
China is going through one of the biggest building booms in its history. In just 60 years, more than 300 million people have moved from the countryside into the cities and the number will continue to grow. As the country prepares for the future, the best architects in the world are coming to China to reshape the skyline of its cities. Tall buildings are springing up everywhere alongside adverts for luxury cars, grand plans for bullet trains and an endless opening of regional transportation hubs. It is a drive where the government is carefully trying to balance the old China with the new.
One of the best examples of this thrust to the future is Pudong, Shanghai’s central business district. On one bank of the river, colonial buildings with classical styles line the large esplanade. On the other bank, towering skyscrapers of glass and steel dominate the cities skyline. It is a spectacular mix of traditional Chinese architecture and new designs in a disparate collection of shapes, colors and materials.
The city, and indeed the country at large, has become an experimental playground for the most famous architects from all over the world. Facilitated by a government that can ensure development plans are fast tracked, characters like Steven Holl, Norman Foster, Wang Shu and Zaha Hadid are seeing their daring dreams realised in quick time. The buildings, often created at the behest of luxury designer brands like Prada and Armani, reflect just how much and how quickly the Government of China has adapted from its communist roots.
At the center of this great mix is Beijing, the base of the Party and the face of the country. While many capital cities are happy to simply be the bureaucratic center of a country, Beijing aims to become one of the countries a commercial and financial hubs. Buildings like the Galaxy SOHO and the CCTV Tower are cutting edge architectural examples of the capitals new face that are in stark contrast to the old city.
As the main financial hub of China, it is Shanghai that sets many of the architectural trends in the country and is most open to experimentation. The headquarters of Interactive Group is a prime example of this; the complex looks like it has been lifted straight out of Silicone Valley and transplanted into the heart of China. The buildings appear like a futuristic image of a Hobbits burrow, with grass covered buildings blending into glass and steel structures.
Where China’s architectural future will lead is anyone’s guess, but the journey is bound to be an exciting one. The scale of change and the size of the canvas on which these architects are working on will ensure that travellers will find the modern face of China an enchanting place to explore for a long time to come.
It is a tribute to the architectural brilliance of Gaudi that the buildings and structures he designed were so appealing, unique and eye catching, that 100 years after his death he is still revered in the city of his birth. In fact, a trip to Barcelona is incomplete without a visit to the Sagrada de Familia and Park Güell. Here is a look at some of the cities highlights that should be on every travellers list should they visit the city.
Sagrada de Familia
Since construction of the Sagrada de Familia started, Europe has been ravaged by two world wars, colonialism has ended and Spain has won the World Cup. Yet the Cathedral is still a dozen years away from completion, which puts the delays that commuters on the Northern Line face into perspective. None of this has deterred the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come to visit the cathedral every year, because it is without doubt one of Gaudi’s masterpieces.
Park Güell is a garden complex situated on the hills behind Barcelona with a panoramic view of the city. The main focus of the Park is the large open roof terrace, which is surrounded by colourful benches that wind in the form of a sea snake. A little known fact is that the park was originally designed as a luxury housing complex, an idea that though a failure 100 years ago would almost certainly succeed if it was attempted today.
Casa Millà was commissioned as a townhouse for a rich widower who had returned from the Americas. The building is nine stories high and was centred around two large courtyards. Built of stone, with an undulating design intricate wrought iron balconies, Casa Millà stood out in this fashionable neighbourhood.
Casa Battlò has a playful fairytale design, with colourful metallic roof tiles that shimmer in the light and cartoon like vines that climb the outside of the building, that makes it look like it has been transplanted from a story by the Brothers Grimm. This fairytale theme continues within the building, with rounded stained glass windows and a copper fireplace.
Palau Güell is a mansion off La Rambla, which was designed for the industrialist – and main sponsor of Gaudi – Eusebi Güell. The palace is sombre and there is none of the riotous use of colour that defines many of his later works. Yet the building is a grand example of Gaudi’s vision and his ability to create beautiful structures.
Casa Calvet was originally built for a textile manufacturer and was part residence, part office space. The building has a conventional design, with simple regularly placed wrought iron balconies, that is symmetrical and balanced. Although a beautiful building, it is often overlooked by the tourist crowd.
Egypt is home to one of the worlds oldest and greatest civilisations. The first kingdom rose from a collection of communities living along the banks of the River Nile more than 5,000 years ago. For an almost unbroken period of 3,000 years the Kingdoms of Egypt were famed for its riches and upon its annexation by the Roman Empire, Egypt became the grain basket of Rome (it was so important that Roman citizens needed special permission from the Emperor to even enter the area). Like Dubai today, the incredible wealth of the ruling families of Egypt resulted in a bronze age spending spree of impressive proportions undertaken by figures like Ramses II and Khafre. Here is a selection of some of the Ancient architectural highlights of Egypt for anyone planning a trip to the country.
Temple of Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut is a mortuary temple for Queen Hatshepsut who ruled Egypt from 1479 to 1458BC. The grand temple is built in a series of three colonnaded raised terraces that reach 30 meters in height. The terraces are connected by ramps and used to be surrounded by lush green gardens. The whole structure was built into the side of a cliff face.
Temple of Luxor
The Luxor is located on the East bank of the River Nile in the ancient city of Thebes. The Site was dedicated to the Egyptian Gods Amun, Chons and Mut. The wealth of Luxor was famed in the Ancient World and the area was a huge mix of temples and the associated administrative buildings and palaces. Little of this remains, but what is left is enough to awe tourists who visit this beautiful country.
Abu Simbel was a temple built during the reign of Ramses II and was supposed to be a lasting monument to himself and his wife, Nefertari. The temple was carved out of the mountainside and is an impressive piece of architecture and engineering. In the 1960′s the whole complex was completely relocated so that the site would not be flooded when the Aswan High Dam was built.
Karnak was the largest temple complex in the ancient world. The complex was built and expanded upon over centuries. The majority of the structures come from the period of the New Kingdom. One of the most famous parts of the temple complex is the Hypostyle Hall that covers 5,000 square meters, and was supported by 134 massive granite columns.
Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza are probably the most famous archeological site from Ancient Egypt. The necropolis is located just South-West of the suburbs of Cairo and were built over millennia. The most famous of the pyramids are the Pyramids of Giza that were built over three generations. The largest of the pyramids is 139 meters high.
The first examples of buildings that incorporated large large domes can be traced back to the Persian Empire. Domes became extremely popular in the Roman Empire and were a mainstay of architectural design. They have been famously incorporated into many religious buildings – St. Paul’s Cathedral and Santa Maria del Fiore. The Persian empire in its many and varied incarnations was also at the forefront of many architectural innovations and over the centuries Iran has created its own distinct architectural style. However, as a result of the sanctions against Iran, which has removed the country from the backpacker trail, most people below the ago of 40 know little about the countries architectural heritage. Here are some of the highlights that no tourist should overlook.
Before its destruction by Alexander the Great, Persepolis was the ancient ceremonial capital of the Persian empire. For more than 200 years the Achaemenian kings built and improved upon this massive city of grand temples and beautiful palaces. The ruins of the city, which are little more than columns and elaborate basis, stretch across the vast floodplain, a historical testament to a once vast empire.
Bisitun is one of the most famous historical sites in Iran. The site was a waystation on the old road from Ecbatana to Babylon. Engraved into the mountainside behind the village is a large bas-relief that is written in Babylonian, Persian and Elamite. It was this inscription that allowed archeologists at the turn of the 20th century to decipher the old Persian script.
Built at the start of the 16th Century, Sheikh Lof Allah Mosque in Isfahan is one of the finest examples of Prrsian architecture. The mosque was originally built as a private mosque for the royal court. Its most striking architectural feature is its beautiful flattened dome which has given it the colloquial name Domed Mosque.
The Imam Mosque in Isfahan was built in the 17th Century and unlike the Loftfollah was open to the general public. The mosque is famous for its beautiful intricate mosaic interior and the enormous dome that reaches 53 into the air. The mosque, which was built in the old capital of Iran, was part of a program of state centralisation implemented by Shah Abbas.
City of Yazd
The city of Yazd is an oasis town situated between two deserts. The city used to be the heart of the Zoroastrian culture and is extremely isolated. These factors have given the city a distinctive architectural style. Some of the cities highlights include the Wind Towers and the high quality silk textiles produced in the city.