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July 20, 2017

A look at five very different examples of where architecture and art combine to create something memorable and magnificent.

 The point at which structural engineering, architectural design and art all intersect has always had the potential to create the remarkable. From Milan’s famous Duomo, which took 600 years to complete, to Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral, which is probably London’s most iconic landmark, certain buildings appear from time to time that are as unique as a Picasso or a Rembrandt.

This is as true today as it has ever been – and modern architecture is able to draw on an ever-widening range of new techniques and materials to come up with creations that would have seemed impossible a few years ago. Here are five of our favourite examples.

1) Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland

Just to prove that the most spectacular modern buildings are not all in the world’s bustling capitals, the first is in one of the most remote locations on the planet.

It is not the first such construction to appear on the small island off the unforgiving coast of Newfoundland, but it is the largest. The architect is Norwegian Todd Saunders, and he previously designed a group of cabins to a space-inspired design.

This hotel follows the same model, but on a far larger scale. It covers a total area of 43,000 square feet and its X-shaped structure stands on stilts with breath-taking views of the Atlantic from every one of its 29 suites, through the floor to ceiling windows.

2) The Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku

Azerbaijan’s bustling capital is no stranger to unusual architecture. In a land where east meets west and to a backdrop of serious oil money, this is a place where anything is possible.

But even for Baku, the Heydar Aliyev Center is something that almost defies description. The brainchild of Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the exhibition centre appears to consist of a single curve, without a corner in sight.

The interior is as remarkable as the exterior – structural supports are embedded in the façade, meaning there is not a support pillar in sight.

3) Al Bahr Towers, Abu Dhabi

It is impossible to talk about amazing architecture without paying a visit to the United Arab Emirates, but on this occasion, we are not going to Dubai, but to Abu Dhabi, just two hours’ drive up the road.

The twin towers are 25 stories high and mostly covered in glass. But what makes them stand out from the rest is the latticework second skins, which open and close in reaction to the sun. This maximises solar energy gain and at the same time creates an ever-shifting geometric shape across the construction.

4) The Blue Planet, Denmark

This aquarium looks to have come straight from the set of Doctor Who. Created in 2013 by 3XN, it has five wave-like wings extending from a central lobby and is clad in aluminium shingles that create a constantly changing light show.

5) Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing, Berlin

You were promised something different. This truly unique building looks like a set of child’s building blocks stacked carelessly. The façade is covered in lines and shapes that have been recreated and enlarged from historic sketches. A glass box containing offices sits perched on the top. It really has to be seen to be believed.