Though lesser known, the Hungarian city of Veszprém is one of the oldest and most important cities in the country. Designated as the European Union Capital of Culture for 2023, Veszprém boasts a longstanding history, visible through its evolving, yet well-preserved architectural monuments. In fact, one of the first notable observations as one walks through the city streets is its eclecticism and layers of historically diverse buildings, that sporadically arise. Despite the difference in styles and architectural languages, they collectively tell the story of the county and its spiritual and political relevance. Its pedestrian-friendly streets, many parks and public spaces, connect the Veszprém monuments, as one delves into a historic promenade.
Built on a cluster of 118 small islands in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, the city of Venice, Italy, has captivated the imagination of architects and tourists alike. The area has been inhabited since ancient times, becoming a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as proven through the rich architecture that characterizes the city to this day. With influences from the Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance styles, the city represents a palimpsest of architectural narratives, overlapping and influencing each other. In recent years, Venice has become a major attraction for architects drawn to the La Biennale di Venezia, the most important Architectural Exhibition featuring national pavilions, exhibitions, and events to explore new concepts and architectural innovations.
Beyond the Biennale, Venice itself is an open-air museum for architecture lovers. While the city is best known for its historical buildings, Modernist and contemporary interventions add a new layer of interest, with many contemporary architects working with the historical fabric, like OMA’s intervention and rehabilitation of Fondaco dei Tedeschi, or David Chipperfield’s renovation of Procuratie Vecchie, one of the buildings that define Piazza San Marco. In addition to what the city has to offer, the site of the Venice Biennale is also marked by interventions by famous architects such as Carlo Scarpa, Sverre Fehn, and Alvar Aalto, made permanent due to their outstanding qualities.
A global city and cosmopolitan hub, Milan is mainly recognized today as a fashion and economic center, widely coveted by visitors from around the world. It is the second most populated city in Italy and hosts some of the major fashion and design-related events in the world. Milan also houses prestigious educational institutions, many of which are renowned for heritage and conservationist specialties.
The latter is quite relevant, seeing as the city's most recognizable tourist attractions are the gothic Duomo di Milano, Santa Maria delle Grazia, or the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, amongst other classical and baroque sites. On the other hand, the city also has some of the boldest and most experimental modern and contemporary buildings that highlight the marriage of the beautifully crafted and often ornamental heritage with the modern, post-modernist, and contemporary monuments that make up Milan's unique style.
Capital city of the United Arab Emirates, the city of Abu Dhabi is located on an island in the Persian Gulf, connected to the mainland by a short bridge. Home to the local and federal government offices, as well as to the President of the UAE, Abu Dhabi was formerly an undeveloped town with only local significance that transformed into a large metropolis, at a record speed of development and urbanization.
Japanese architect Katsuhiko Takahashi created the master plan of the city in 1967, with a target population of 40,000. Encouraged in the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030, tall skyscrapers symbolize nowadays its iconic architecture, as well as new developments of Al Maryah Island, and the Sheikh Zayed mosque initiated and constructed under the administration of the late President Sheikh Zayed, a pivotal figure in the development of the contemporary UAE.
While the city of Berlin has a long history, dating back to the 13th century, its architecture and urban fabric has undergone the most significant changes during the last century, reflecting the impact of major historical events that took place in the German capital. During the early 20th century, Berlin transformed into a modern metropolis, marked through the construction of grand buildings and imposing structures to demonstrate the city’s growing economic and political power. The 1920s and 1930s saw the emergence of the Modernist movement, which, together with the Bauhaus school of architecture founded in 1919, influenced the image and urban fabric of Berlin.
During the Second World War the city was heavily bombed, resulting in the destruction of many historical buildings. During the post-war period, reconstruction efforts focused on rebuilding infrastructure and housing, while the city remained divided until 1989, with the fall of the Berlin wall. After this period, Berlin witnessed a renewed interest in architecture and urban design. Interventions such as David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum aimed to rebuild historical monuments without erasing the markings of their difficult past. Other projects such as the renovation of the Reichstag had a different purpose. Norman Foster’s intervention intended to keep the image of this building but change its symbolism from a structure representative for the Nazi regime to one embracing the ideals of democracy and equality.
Although there is no exact record of the specific moment in which Puerto Escondido began to become a reference of contemporary Mexican architecture, various waves have been experienced. Perhaps the first one started in 2016 when the construction of Casa Wabi began, a Tadao Ando project where the Mexican office BAAQ´ collaborated as associates to develop the executive project and coordinate its construction. However, in 2019 another wave was experienced that was later reinforced by the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work, which radically aroused interest in returning to the provinces and costs where there was less population and overcrowding.
Munich – Bavaria’s capital since 1506 – is a city with layers and layers of history. Its many years as a rising architectural epicenter have left an interesting and unique mix of buildings. From Middle Age churches and cathedrals to contemporary synagogues. From skyscrapers to small pavilions. Brutalism to Art Nouveau. Munich’s architecture is truly extensive and marvelous.
Though not acknowledging Munich’s beer wonders would be wrong, the only mention of this substance would be in the stunning buildings (like the new Paulaner HQ by Hierl Architekten) that contain them. Yes, other aspects of the city are grandiose, but let’s focus on Munich’s top attraction: its architecture.
Walking through the streets of Mumbai, India, is an experience unmatched anywhere else. The energy of India’s largest and most populous city is palpable through the people, their activities, and most importantly, the built environment. The city’s dynamic culture is evidently expressed through the structures that dot its landscape.
Mumbai is an eclectic mix of buildings large and small, old and new, and traditional and modern. The city of contrasts boasts an architectural legacy that goes back over 2000 years. Located in the state of Maharashtra along the west coast of India, Mumbai hosts a variety of architectural styles such as Victorian, Gothic, Art Deco, Indo-Saracenic, Modern and Post-modern. The city is characterized by its old charm and liveliness, a diverse stage for people to pursue their dreams.
New York City is one of the most exciting places in the world. As an epicenter for the arts, media, and culture, New York has a rich history and a promising future, told mainly through its architecture. Perhaps more known for iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, or even mega-tall residential towers like 432 Park Avenue that have been on the rise, New York also has an abundance of buildings that tell a different story about the history of the Big Apple.
The city of Copenhagen has had a somewhat unusual evolution. After becoming a highly industrialized city by the end of the 19th century, the city began adopting the English concept of the “garden city” in an effort to sanitize and decentralize its neighborhoods. In 1947, the “Five Finger Plan” was developed to guide urban development and expand the city along five main arteries. This led to a transit-oriented infrastructure with small clusters or urbanity along the transportation routes. The major shift appeared in the 1960s. Spearheaded by Jan Gehl’s initiative for Strøget, Copenhagen started transforming its car-heavy areas into pedestrian-friendly zones. What followed was a period of urban development that prioritized the well-being of its residents while encouraging architects to experiment with innovative human-centered designs.
Ljubljana is Europe’s little secret. This small capital city (less than 300,000 inhabitants) is perhaps surprisingly big in terms of architecture, and the variety of its built history makes it a mandatory stop in your architectural journey. From richly painted churches to sobering Brutalism. From classical Baroque and Habsburg-inspired architecture to delightful Art Nouveau façades and interiors. And of course, abundant greenery (Ljubljana is Slovenia’s – and now Europe’s – green capital) and food.
Ljubljana is a city that has many layers. Its beginnings as a Roman city are still visible (a wall, the world’s oldest wooden wheel, and the roads in and out of the city to name a few). Its contemporary vestiges might have aged, but their meaning hasn’t – think of the Republic Square or Brutalist petrol stations. It’s when we visit in person that we are able to truly feel these places and understand these layers.
Doha is the capital of Qatar and the county’s most populated area, accommodating more people than the rest of Qatar combined. Located on the coast of the Persian Gulf, Doha is a relatively young city, founded in the vicinity of another settlement, Al Bidda, sometime during the 1820s. In recent years, the city has seen rapid population growth, an image reflected in the architectural landscape. During the 1960s and 1970s, many of the old districts in Doha have been demolished to make space for new developments, while a number of schemes have been deployed to advocate for the preservation of the city’s cultural and architectural heritage.
From the 19th century onwards, with the Industrial Revolution, the growing population, and the ever-more pressing demands for urban space in Europe, the first reflections on the city emerged. More than that, the process of disciplinary structuring of urban design begins as a theory and practice inherent to the new historical moment that was being consolidated and would have its product, concerning cities, as an attribute of the 20th century. Within this disciplinary logic, configured from a social or political demand linked to militaristic pretensions of order and urban control, the 20th century was the stage for the entire development of this industrial society, which had the city as its horizon.
Home to architectural styles spanning almost three hundred years, the is no city like New Orleans. The meld of French, Spanish, and Caribbean architectural influences, in conjunction with the demands of the hot and humid climate, has impacted the urban fabric as much as the culture itself. Located along the Mississippi River and close to the Gulf of Mexico coast, the construction of ports, NOLA’s trading history, and forceful natural phenomena like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 illustrate how water has shaped the city.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Orleans adapted its values to respond to the changing needs of its recovering community. Although reconstruction is not only architectural responsibility, New Orleanspublic architecture has contributed to revitalizing and reinhabiting the city after the disaster. Museums, parks, and churches, each of these places connects people to each other in ways that define and support community.
Founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia on indigenous settlements in the valley of the Mapocho River, Santiago is the capital and most populated city of Chile. This South American city is enframed by the Andes Mountains to the east and the Chilean Coast Range to the west, in addition to 26 island hills (cerros islas) scattered throughout the city. Some of these island hills have been converted into urban parks, such as Santa Lucía and San Cristóbal, while Chena, Calán, and Renca are in the process of expansion.
We often walk through the city without knowing the value of the buildings around us. In Chile, there is an architectural multiculturalism that has molded the cities with buildings that, to this day, are awarded a heritage title and are not recognized as such by the inhabitants and visitors.
Byzantium, Constantinople and now Istanbul, the many names this city has had over the centuries are proof of the central role it has played throughout history. Founded by Greek settlers in the 7th century, the city served as an imperial capital for a cumulated period of over 1600 years. During the Roman/Byzantine, it played a crucial role in the advancement of Christianity before its transformation into an Islamic center and becoming the sear of the Ottoman Caliphate. Today, Istanbul is a vibrant city with a rich cultural scene and multiple historical layers to be discovered.
Situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world that has been shaped throughout its 5,000 year history by Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, and the Ottomans. The Lebanese capital has been for decades a cosmopolitan city and a focal cultural and geographical link between Europe and the Middle East.
Often labeled as a resilient city, Beirut has been subject to numerous devastating events throughout its history, from a brutal 15-year civil war to one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history. Nowadays, the city boasts a skyline full of contrasts, where contemporary buildings rise alongside Ottoman, Roman, and Byzantine ruins. Its architecture, along with its renowned cuisine, distinguished night life, archaeological sites, and hospitable people have reclaimed it as a sought-after touristic destination.
The capital of South Korea, officially known as Seoul Special City, is the largest metropolis in the country. From modern skyscrapers, high-tech subways, and expressions of pop culture, to traditional temples, palaces, and pagodas, Seoul is a captivating melting pot of old and new that all are guaranteed to enjoy.
If you plan on visiting Seoul and taking in most of what the vibrant city has for locals and tourists alike, the following list features 30 unique projects for you to indulge in and explore, providing you with a starting point for your metropolitan travels.
“A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.” Le Corbusier. This architecture city guide celebrates Modernism in one of the world's greatest cities: New York. We embark on an architectural journey through nearly a century of innovative, revolutionary architecture: from early 20th century, revivalist Beaux-Arts; to machine-age Art Deco of the Inter-War period; to the elegant functionalism of the International Style; to the raw, exposed Brutalism characteristic of the Post-War years; and, finally, to the splendid forms of organic architecture. From world-renowned landmarks to undiscovered jewels, we invite you to explore the 2,028 blocks that make Manhattan an architectural mecca for citizens around the world.
As the largest city in the United States, New York City is one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in the world, recognized by many as the center for global media, culture, fashion art, and finance. The city was founded in 1624 by settlers from the Dutch Republic and has since grown into “the city that never sleeps”.
While almost every style of architecture exists in New York City, the metropolis is most well known for its skyscrapers, both in historical styles such as Neoclassical and Art Deco and in their varied contemporary expressions. The first building to bring the world's tallest title to New York was the New York World Building, in 1890. Later, New York City was home to the world's tallest building for 75 continuous years, starting with the Park Row Building in 1899.
The Antioquian capital has become one of the most advanced technological and intellectual epicenters in Colombia, not to mention the important urban development that has occurred in the city since the beginning of 2010. The city’s mobility-orientated integrated infrastructure together with interventions of high social impact have turned Medellín into the center of the debate on the growth and development of Latin American cities.
The following projects tell you the story of a city that bet on urban consolidation through quality public spaces and projects that encouraged citizen management by supporting the development of marginalized areas in a process of social reconstruction, where architecture has played an important role as a spatial formulation tool.
In 1782, Bangkok became the capital of Siam – as Thailand was previously known. Its strategic position within the protective curve of Chao Phraya River to the West and the vast, swampy delta of the Sea of Mud that secured the city to the East was key. King Rama I modeled the new city on what had been the urban reference of Thailand since the 14th century: Ayutthaya, which by 1700 had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants.
Bangkok progressively saw the construction of temples (wats), schools, libraries and hospitals. However, few other typologies were erected and the city lacked significant paved streets. Instead, the river and a network of interconnected canals served as the transport infrastructure of the city. With time, the floating houses anchored along the riverfront decreased and the pavements spread.
Spanning over 3 millennia with one of the highest concentrations of architecture in the world, Rome is a transcendental influence on the world's culture. A city rich in history, academia, and arts, the Italian capital is considered as one of the oldest continuously-occupied cities in Europe, and has maintained its countless layers of history to become a perfect depiction of old meets new, earning its nickname of "The Eternal City".
Rome's historic center, which stretches from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia and from the the east bank of the Tiber up to Piazza di Spagna, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along with its historical significance, the presence of renowned contemporary architects and designers in the city has made Rome an influential design destination. In 2019, it was the 14th most visited city in the world, welcoming over 8.6 million tourists to make it the third most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist destination in Italy.