Architecture is art in concrete, and certainly one of the most revered forms of art. Modernism in architecture is characterised by minimalism in design and casting off the ornate designs of the classical ages. We have listed 51 truly inspiring pieces of modernist architecture for the connoisseur’s eye.
1.Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
Established in 1939, and built in 1959, this museum is one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century. This masterpiece by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is a wonder in itself and attracts over a million visitors every year. Frank Gehry came up with this unique design after winning an architectural competition to design this. The structure was completed in 1997 and has been a source of wonder and inspiration for many.
2.The Shard, London
This unique masterpiece is a 95-storey super tall skyscraper, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and the tallest building in the United Kingdom. The Shard is truly majestic in terms of looks, finesse, and a real colossus dominating the London skyline.
3.Falling Water, Pennsylvania
Designed by famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater is undeniably the most famous private residence in the world. The unique design makes it look like the house stretches out over a 30ft waterfall, with no solid ground beneath it. The innovative design was finalised in 1939 and has now turned into a historic landmark.
4.Space Needle, Seattle
The Space Needle is a true architectural wonder that is considered an icon of Seattle. The famous landmark stands at 184m high and 42m wide at its widest point. The design was a collaborative effort between architects Edward E Carlson and John Graham. This solid structure was designed to be hardy and it can survive wind velocities of 200mph and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitudes.
5.Lloyd’s building, London
Also known as the ‘inside-out’ building, the Lloyd’s building in London is an inspiring example of innovative thinking and perfect execution in architecture. This ‘almost off the set of a sci-fi movie’ building has won many accolades and awards and is one of the most recognisable constructions on the London skyline. Architects Roger Stirk Harbour & Partners were behind the innovative design, which has its water pipes and staircases on the outside. Built between 1978 and 1986, the building also features 12 exterior lifts, which were the first of their kind in UK.
Antilia is the world’s most extravagant residence belonging to the Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani. It is also an architectural masterpiece, the brainchild of Perkins and Will, and completed by an Australian-based construction company.
7.Las Lajas Sanctuary, Narino
This architectural wonder is built inside a canyon itself and connects one side of the tunnel to its other side. It is a basilica church built in a Gothic revival style between 1916 -1949.
8.Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
This masterpiece has a distinctive postmodern style that was created by the collaborative effort of architects Cesar Pelli and Achmad Murdijat, engineer Deejay Cerico, and designer Dominic Saibo under the guidance of JC Guinto. Standing 451.9 metres-tall, the twin towers dominate the city skyline.
9.La Pedrera, Barcelona
Antoni Gaudi had a distinctive style of architecture that was inspired from nature. His style was mostly asymmetrical and free-flowing. His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings the world has ever seen. La Pedrera is a classic example of this style that sets Gaudi apart from the rest. One of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture, this is a product of unique thinking. It can even find its place amongst the finest art. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognised this building as World Heritage in 1984.
10.Lotus Temple, New Dehli
The lotus temple is a house of God that is open to everyone irrespective of their religion. The building is formed out of 27 marble-clad petals arranged in a cluster-like formation. One of the CNN reports of 2001 claimed it to be the most visited structure in the world. This wondrous project is the brainchild of Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba who won accolades for coming up with truly inspirational masterpiece.
11.The Dancing House, Prague
The Dancing House by architect Vlado Milunic was built in Prague, Czech Republic in 1994-1996. The dancing, i.e. twisted shape is owing to 99 concrete panels, each of a different shape to add that twirl that earned it the nickname. It has gained such a groundbreaking popularity that the building even features on a gold 2,000 Czech koruna coin issued by the Czech National Bank.
12.Cathedral of Brasilia, Brasilia
This curved beauty in Brazil’s Brasilia is just as striking inside as outside with its beautiful stained glass and crown-like structure. It was created between 1958-1970 by Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa. The columns have a parabolic section and 90 t. This cathedral is the most visited place in Brasilia.
13.Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik
This architectural masterpiece is another example of a wonder located in one of the unlikeliest locations. Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik was designed by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Elíasson. The kaleidoscope effect of the crystalline shell deploys light and colour that plays with your senses when you enter the building. It’s a shimmering sculpture, sitting on the shoreline linking sky and sea.
14.Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku
This is another example of an architectural masterpiece located in a remote, unlikely location. The Heydar Aliyev Center is one of the most famous and unique buildings designed by the celebrated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. It’s located in Baku, Azerbaijan, and is one of the newer designs on this list, having been completed in 2012. The design is noted for its distinctive, flowing lines, and lack of sharp angles. The free-flowing style almost reminds of the Antony Gaudi style of architecture.
15.Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi UAE
This is one of the most elaborate designs in the field of modern architecture. The curvaceous structure of the tower connects the two elements, water and sand, dominating the geographical scene of Abu Dhabi. It holds the Guinness World Record for the “world’s furthest leaning manmade tower.”
16.Palace of the Parliament, Romania
The pinnacle of communist architecture in Romania is the People’s Palace (now The Palace of Parliament), built to reflect the prosperity and grandeur of the multilateral society. It’s currently the heaviest building on the planet, with 1.5 billion pounds of steel and bronze, 35 million cubic feet of marble, 7.7 million cubic feet of glass and crystal, and 32 million cubic feet of wood.
17.Guggenheim Museum, New York
The director sought for a ‘temple for the spirit’ befitting the grandeur of the works which will be housed in them. The museum is known for its unique design. Frank Gehry’s masterpiece is as much of a masterpiece outside as inside. The Atrium is known to be wondrous and immediately captures the attention of the visitors as soon as they enter the building.
18.The BT Tower, London
The BT Tower dominates the London skyline, a modernist masterpiece amidst majority of the classical architecture surrounding it. The tower is a hub for various purposes and uses, and provides a panoramic and dramatic view of the city.
The Headquarters was completed in 1952 and has been the seat for UN since then. It was designed by a board of architects led by Wallace Harrison, and built by the architectural firm Harrison & Abramovitz.
The design and structure of The Louvre does justice to the masterpieces housed by it. The interior is as majestic as its exteriors. After entering the museum through the Louvre Pyramid or via the Carrousel du Louvre, you have access to three large wings: Sully, Richelieu and Denon. Each of these wings is magnificent in design and characterized by specific features.
21.The Atomium, Belgium
Very interestingly, The Atomium is magnified 165 billion times the normal size of an iron crystal. It was built for the Brussels World’s Fair but it was kept even after the fair owing to its unique design and its striking appearance. Since then it has been one of the most visited structures in Belgium.
22.The Gateway Arch, Missouri
This engineering & architectural masterpiece is the tallest national monument in America. It was designed by architect Eero Saarinen. It serves to commemorate the accomplishments of 19th-century westward pioneers and celebrate the city’s role as the ‘Gateway to the West.’
23.The Berliner Fernsehturm
This architectural masterpiece dominating the city skyline was originally designed as a prestige project for the GDR (German Democratic Republic.) But it has since then shed its Communist connotations and is equally beloved by Berliners from both sides of the Wall.
24.Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Antoni Gaudi is known for his naturalist style of free –flowing structures that adds a unique feature to his work. His works are sprawled across Spain and his style has inspired many modern architects since. The interiors of this structure are just as striking as its exterior. The intricacies of design stand testimony to the fact that the architect had devoted almost his entire life to this structure. Therefore, it stands as a true architectural miracle.
25.Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Burj Khalifa combines cutting-edge technology with cultural influences. It is not only the tallest building in the world, but also broke the record of being the tallest free-standing structure in the world beating Toronto’s CN Tower, which had previously held the record. Burj Khalifa is a famed structure that holds numerous world records and is emerging to be one of the most visited structures in Dubai.
26.Absolute World, Ontario
Absolute Towers is a set of five residential towers in the city of Mississauga, Canada. Construction of three of the towers was completed in 2008. The last two blocks, Absolute Word 1 and Absolute World 2, were completed in December 2012. The two towers are also known as the ‘Condo Couple’.
Imposing, statuesque and endowed with an undulating sequence of curves, it’s no surprise that MAD Architects’ mesmerising Absolute World 1 was nicknamed ‘Marilyn Monroe’ for its curvy, hourglass figure by smitten locals.
27.Metropol Parasol, Seville, Spain
This architectural masterpiece is emerging to be a city icon. It is unique in structure nowadays just serve as a meeting point for the people in the city. It is locally known as Las Setas (The Mushrooms) owing to its unique structure and design. The honeycombed roof adds a unique look to the structure. This was a mammoth project, and the construction alone took over six years. This much loved structure has become an integral part of Seville and is one of the most visited structures in the city.
28.Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Gardens by the Bay is a futuristic park in Singapore that serves as a major attraction of the city. It covers around 260 acres of land and consists of a striking flower dome that contributes to its attractive appearance. Apart from being a hub for restaurants and cafes, its location also makes it an easy escape from the city’s traffic and skyscrapers.
29.Linked Hybrid, Beijing, China
The Linked Hybrid in Beijing is the brainchild of architect Steven Holl, who received widespread acclaim for this project. The construction began in 2005 and its completion took almost four years. The most striking feature of the structure is a series of multi-functional “skybridges” that connect the eight residential towers and the hotel tower. In a country as populated as China, dearth of living spaces is always a perennial problem. This need provides the origin for the construction of this structure and it not only served the designed purpose but also stands as an architectural masterpiece in the city.
30.Guangzhou Opera House, China
This granite and glass-clad structure was designed by architect Zaha Hadid. Shaped to resemble two pebbles on the bank of the Pearl River, the building houses a 1,800-seat theatre plus 400-seat multifunctional hall, rehearsal rooms, and an entrance hall. The main auditorium is lined with moulded panels made from glass-fibre reinforced gypsum to create a folded, flowing surface. The interior of this structure is equally striking and unique in appearance where the guests are seated in rows that are shaped asymmetrical and irregular to resemble waves of an ocean. This is probably deliberate and in-keeping with the predominance of the ocean in the geographical scene of China.
31.The Basket Building, Ohio
This architectural wonder is not only unique in terms of its appearance but also for the fact that the basket handles can be heated during cold weather to prevent ice damage. This structure was designed by The Longaberger Company, and executed by NBBJ and Korda Nemeth Engineering.