After years (sometimes decades) in the making, 2016 has seen some spectacular architectural ideas come to life. Ranging from the futuristic, to the architecturally classic, to the simply incredible – all around the globe we’ve seen materials such as glass, metal and wood being fashioned into all sorts of innovative creations. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the most impressive structures built this year.
Banner Image Credit: Adam Mork
British Airways i360, UK
Image Credit: iStock.com/Nadiamik
The British Airways i360 is the most recent addition to Brighton’s celebrated seafront. It’s the world’s first vertical cable car, elevating you up to heights of 450 feet. From the vantage point of the sleek, sky-high circular pod, you’ll get 360° views of the grand Georgian buildings, pebble beach and pier, as well as sailing boats gliding along the sea. It’s a fun way to take in the beauty of Brighton and see further along the lovely South Coast of England.
Harbin Opera House, China
Image Credit: Adam Mork
The Harbin Opera House is the latest in a series of extravagant architectural structures currently in the making in China. The showstopper of the Harbin Cultural Island project in the Songhua River, winding curved walls enclose two theatres within. The building seamlessly blends undulating waves of white aluminium panels with geometric lines and glass sections. There’s plenty of culture to be found in the surrounding area too, including year-round ice sculptures on Sun Island Park.
Tate Modern, UK
Image Credit: Iwan Baan
A new section was added to London’s Tate Modern this year, which was originally opened in 2000. The new building forms an intriguing twisted pyramid-style shape and offers great views of the city from the top floor. The 10-storey structure uses the same brick palette as the original 1950s building as architects Herzog & de Meuron mix together old and new aesthetics. Step inside the gallery to view modern and contemporary art exhibitions by world-renowned artists.
Zayed National Museum, UAE
Image Credit: Katy Harris
Inspired by bird wings, this striking structure in Abu Dhabi will be a museum dedicated to the history and culture of the United Arab Emirates. Due to open to the public later this year, the Zayed National Museum is perched on its own island with the sea providing a dramatic backdrop to its unique silhouette. The energy-efficient building was designed by British award-winning architects Foster + Partners.
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, China
Image Credit: www.zhangjiajietourguide.com
An awe-inspiring glass bridge of epic proportions has been constructed over a canyon in China. Suspended from two cliffs at a height of 300 metres above the ground, the transparent bridge was designed to be invisible. You can walk over the glass floor and admire the lush greenery of the enchanting Zhangjiajie National Forest Park below (if you dare!). It’s also broken a few records as the world’s longest and tallest bridge and highest bungee jump.
World Trade Center Transportation Hub, USA
Image Credit: iStock.com/mizoula
Designed by innovative architect Santiago Calatrava, the Transportation Hub is part of an area regeneration project in New York. The shape is modelled on a bird being released from a child’s hand, forming the entrance to the World Trade Center’s subway and train station. In the future, the hub plans to integrate a shopping mall, ferry terminal and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, all connected through underground pedestrian areas.
Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE
Image Credit: © TDIC, Architect: Ateliers Jean Nouvel
The famous Louvre in Paris has created a new gallery space in the Middle East. The dazzlingly bright Louvre Abu Dhabi was dreamt up by French architect Jean Nouvel. The sharp lines of the collection of 55 buildings are contrasted by a large domed roof of lattice steel. It creates a dappled lighting effect designed to evoke the feeling of walking through a souk. It is expected to open its doors to the public in late 2016, so watch this space.
Vendsyssel Theatre and Experience Centre, Denmark
Image Credit: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
This modern theatre and cultural centre in Hjørring, Denmark, is made up of a series of blocks which slot together. A steel and glass exterior looks onto a plaza and the eco building has been designed to fit in with the surrounding environment. Finishing touches are currently being applied to the Vendsyssel Centre and it’s expected to open later this year. As one of the oldest towns in Denmark, there’s plenty of history to discover in its museums, which sit alongside contemporary shops and cafés.
Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, USA
Image Credit: Douglas Remley (Smithsonian)
Dedicated to African-American life, history and culture, the Smithsonian Museum NMAAHC recently opened its doors to the public in September. US President Obama spoke at the opening ceremony as the five-storey building in Washington D.C. was transformed into a 3D film screen for the occasion. Walk around the angular bronze-covered building and you’ll see different shapes as your perspective shifts, giving you a framed view of other nearby landmarks like the Washington Monument and the White House.