Twisted towers, castles in the sea, buildings made out of books (or TV screens), skyscrapers almost a mile high… we’re taking a look at some of the most impressive, weird and wonderful buildings around the world.
From offices, castles and apartment blocks to libraries, museums and the centre of the trading world, they’re all here:
The twisted skyscraper
The Turning Torso in Sweden is the tallest skyscraper in Scandinavia – but it’s not it’s height that makes it impressive (which is a good job, as it’s dwarfed by most of New York and the Arab Emirates). Instead, it’s the unique design of this tower block, which features a full 90 degree rotation as it rises, hence the name. It officially opened in 2005 and is home to 147 apartments as well as a wine cellar, gym, spa and lounge – sounds well-equipped to us!
For some other impressive spas (some of which are also housed in some pretty special buildings) check out our LFX Guide to Spa Days.
The metal museum
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, is a museum of modern and contemporary art – and it’s a bit of a work of art in itself. It was built by American architect Frank Gehry and opened in 1997 – and it’s been hailed as “the greatest building of our time” and “an astonishing architectural feat”. Its curves are designed to look random (which they certainly do) while its titanium finish has been likened to fish scales (which we’re not entirely sure we’d consider a compliment, but I guess it’s the look they were going for). It’s certainly an impressive sight…
The building covered in TV screens
Okay, they’re not literally TV screens, but thousands of famous images of Dutch television put together by graphic designer Jaap Drupsteen to house the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. The building’s facade is actually made from stained-glass, which allows colourful light to break into the interior, which is home to archives and stores, a television museum, and offices. The building cost an estimated €400,000,000 to build and stores all of the audiovisual material produced in the Netherlands since television was invented.
The castle in the sea
It looks exactly like Hogwarts, if you ask me, but Mont-St Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France constructed in around the 8th century. It’s 1km from the coast and has a population of 44. At the top are the abbey and monastery, followed by the great halls, with stores and housing at the bottom, and fisherman’s and farmer’s housing outside the castle walls. The island was unconquered in The Hundred Years War thanks to its tidal defences, and it was also used as a state prison in the sixteenth century. If walls could talk, this one would have some stories…
The world’s coolest library
The Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri, has an unusual technique for disguising its multi-storey car park – a giant bookshelf. The book spines measure 25 feet by 9 feet and the 22 titles, chosen by Kansas City residents, include Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Plato’s Republic and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Those dreaded primary school library trips would have been a whole lot more exciting if every library looked like this…
We might build 25 foot versions of our favourite trading books one day – but for now, you can find them in our Book Club.
The world’s tallest building (to be)
Okay, we’re cheating a little bit, because this one hasn’t actually been built yet. But when it’s completed (hopefully by 2018) The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will stand at a whopping 1km – a good 20% higher than the current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is 2,722ft or 829.8m tall. The Jeddah Kingdom Tower will be home to hotels, offices, serviced apartments, gyms, spas, cafes, the world’s highest observation deck and – we’d hazard a guess – a few stairs. The project is estimated to cost SR4.6 billion, and has run into a few practical problems thus far – like how exactly do you pump more than a million tonnes of wet concrete half a mile in the air? I’m dizzy just thinking about it…
The centre of the trading world
Well, we couldn’t leave out the most famous building on Wall Street, could we? The New York Stock Exchange, nicknamed ‘The Big Board’, as it stands today was opened in 1903 and built by architect George Browne Post. Its trading floor was one of the largest volumes of space in the city at the time at 109 x 140ft, with a 72ft high ceiling. There are plenty more impressive buildings in the Big Apple nowadays and trading floors are largely redundant… but it’s a piece of trading history anyway, so we’re keeping it in.