“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.
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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.
One of the world's leading metropolises, Tokyo is home to extraordinary architecture that fascinates through its blend of traditional values and high-tech expression. The 1923 earthquake and the bombardments of World War II dramatically influenced the image of the city and its architecture, giving rise to modern urban environments with complex infrastructure.
The Japanese capital constitutes the most populated metropolitan area in the world, housing 33 million inhabitants. Divided into 23 wards and numerous neighbourhoods, the city features a diverse blend of atmospheres and urban fabrics that support an amalgamation of architectural typologies.
Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Its origins lie in the 12th century when fishermen living along the banks of the River Amstel built a bridge across the waterway near the IJ, then a large saltwater inlet. Most of the city’s territory is below sea level and therefore it lies on land that has been reclaimed from the water.
Amsterdam is all about practical urban planning, amazing cycling infrastructure, tulip-lined canal bridges, and old merchant houses that tilt at impossible angles. I visited Amsterdam again last year and discovered some new places.
On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago had roughly 200 inhabitants. Four years later, in 1837, it was upgraded to The City of Chicago – an interesting fact given that there are still 19 incorporated towns in Illinois. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed 300 people, destroyed about 3.3 square miles (9 km2), and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. However, by that time Chicago had become the world’s fastest-growing city and its population had risen over 300,000 inhabitants. The fire meant these ambitious citizens had to start again.
With admirable strength, the city was reborn from the ashes and some of Chicago’s best architecture was constructed immediately after. Structures like the Rookery Building (1888, Frank Lloyd Wright), the Auditorium Building (1889, Louis Sullivan) and the Monadnock Building (1893, Burnham & Root, Holabird & Roche) are a few examples of the high standards the city was aiming for.
The historical Roman town has been busy at work and new exciting buildings, squares, and public parks have bloomed across the city. Since my first trip to Zürich in 2014, a lot has happened around good old Turicum.
After a compelling trip organized by Visit Zürich and my friend Philipp Heer, we were able to visit some of the newest, most interesting and uplifting places of the city. Flitting hither and thither, Roc Isern, David Basulto, and I enjoyed the privilege of a tailored itinerary, access to Zürich's gems, and perhaps the most inspiring, the architects behind these amazing structures.
In Barcelona, the cradle of contemporary urbanism, the landscape is enriched with endless layers of history. Since its first settlers, Roman colonists, generation after generation built here, one on top of another.
Romans, Visigoths and a brief Islamic period are still embedded within the city's prettiest streets. These old architectural stories are delightfully present nowadays. At first glimpse, the traveler can spot a 14th century stone cathedral coexisting with a computer-generated undulating structure – in harmony. Not many cities manage temporary tension as good as Barcelona.
When members of the Bauhaus school fled Germany, many of these talented visionaries made their way to Tel Aviv. At the time, the city was in its fledgling stages and served as the ideal blank canvas for this idealistic concept. Today, the city boasts over 4,000 Bauhaus buildings and has earned distinction as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Last year, for the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus, the city opened the White City Center in partnership with the German government to actively promote the preservation of this iconic architectural style. The White City Center hosts exhibitions where visitors can learn more about this iconic style. The Bauhaus Center is also worth a visit and hosts weekly guided tours on Fridays for a small fee. For those who are planning a visit here’s our list of the top six must-see Bauhaus buildings in Tel Aviv.
The city of Belfast is enjoying a resurgence of life. Having been gripped by decades of conflict over politics and religion, the Northern Irish capital has been transformed by peace over the past ten years, and now hosts an array of sublime architecture old and new, by renowned architects past and present.
The urban landscape of Belfast, transitioning between industry, culture, arts, commerce, and education, makes the city a worthy destination for architects and designers. Influenced by Irish and British vernacular styles, shaped by the demands of shipbuilding, linen, security, and now post-conflict confidence, the city remains somewhat of a blank canvas for creatives to experiment, reflect, and dream.
Dublin is one of the world’s most beloved cities. The Irish capital welcomes over 5.6 million tourists every year from around the world, seeking out the city’s red brick rows, cobblestone streets, and lush green parklands.
Dublin has good reason for being on any architect’s travel list. Modest Georgian tenements, sensitively altered by local architects, stand alongside major civil and public works by some of the world’s most renowned international firms, while warm art nouveau and art deco cafes sit alongside the sleek, modern headquarters of the world’s largest tech firms.
Situated in the Loire region of France, Nantes could be regarded as a “tale of two cities” from many angles. Once a bustling node for European shipping, former vast, industrial warehouses have become a hotbed of cultural and artistic expression. Meanwhile, divided by the Loire river flowing towards the Atlantic, a maze of Haussmann-style terraces, ornate cathedrals, and monumental museums sit in contrast to an island of outlandish mechanical contraptions, and young, modern, free-spirited innovation.
The sheer variety of artistic and architectural wonders alone make Nantes a destination for architects and designers. Merged with culinary excellence, highly-instagrammable hotels, and a determination by public and private officials to maintain and expand on the city’s vibrant, playful design scene, and Nantes becomes a must-see, undiscovered architectural gem.
Cities have a wealth of experiences, landmarks and sights to offer the eager traveller, who despite their ambitions, may begin to feel overwhelmed under the weight of culture and geography that saturates their travels. It is easy to get lost not only during pilgrimages to iconic locations, but also in the number of places to go and things to see, guided on overpriced tours and by consumerist maps. But worry not, for a new Kickstarter campaign has been launched for the Architectour Guide – a hardcover curated compendium of key spots that’s got you covered during your next urban crawl.
“The guide is made for the urban explorer, an individual who loves discovering cities in a different way,” explains Virginia Duran, the London-based architect and urban planner responsible for the campaign. “Architectour Guide collects the best spaces of a city inspiring travelers to craft their trips in a unique way, making it easier for us to visit, understand and photograph each of these places. As a consequence, we travelers will be helping to keep buildings alive.”
Rio de Janeiro is a city of sights and sounds. As diverse as its people is the collection of impressive architecture found in Brazil’s second most populous city—from Eurocentric historical architecture to 20th century regionalist modern marvels, not to mention the city’s growing crop of contemporary cultural venues. The combination of mountainous terrain, lush rainforest, and the ocean inspires many to create lively and unique architecture.
In preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the city has enlisted a crop of internationally renowned architects including Santiago Calatrava, whose work joins Rio's existing masterpieces from architects such as Oscar Niemeyer. But apart from its "Capital A" Architecture, the city of Rio is home to thousands of residents living in the now-famous favelas—interesting subjects of inquiry for those interested in the concept of spontaneous urban growth. There’s a building for just about every architecture fan visiting Rio this year or anytime in the future.