Canadian Markets close in 2 hrs 30 mins

The 12 architectural must-sees


Architects today are boldly pushing boundaries – from totally fluid lines to audaciously designed structures that blows the mind. Coupled with ingenuity, sustainable goals, and respect for the culture
in which they work with, there are now cutting edge, spectacular designs that are shaping up to be some of the most influential structures in the world.

Foster + Partners, one of the most innovative architectural practices in the world today, have designed many of the architectural wonders such as the world’s largest airport terminal at Beijing, Swiss Re’s London Headquarters, Millau Viaduct in France, the German Parliament in the Reichstag, Berlin, the Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt and many others.

Since its inception in 1967, the firm has received over 630 awards for excellence and won over 100 national and international competitions. Following critically acclaimed shows in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Foster + Partners recently opened their very first exhibition in Malaysia.

The ability to transcend a space and connect with the public, speaks volumes of how modern architecture is increasingly pushing technological and design boundaries. Whilst some buildings are known to be iconic in nature in the field of architecture, others realise that the architecture and design of a place is only well-deserved if it blends well with function and style. Keeping in mind these two elements, we often wonder what are the ultimate must-sees and architectural designs that warrants a second look. Could it be their fine-detailing, the stunning use of space or simply the drop dead stunning architecture?

Here are 12 grand, extraordinary and spectacular architectural creations and their stunning use of spaces under four main areas – sustainable cities, infrastructure and megastructures, skyscrapers and culture from around the globe, including Malaysia.


West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong



The West Kowloon Cultural District is bound to create a major new centre for music, performing and visual arts on a dramatic harbour-front site in the heart of Hong Kong. There will be seventeen new cultural venues, including a Great Opera House, ‘M+’ museum of modern art, concert halls and a 15,000-seat arena – the district will offer everything from traditional Chinese theatre to pop concerts. At the heart of Foster + Partners design is a magnificent 23-hectare public park.


Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE




Masdar City is the world’s first attempt to create a brand new low carbon, zero waste community in the desert – one of the most extreme climates on earth, where temperatures can reach 60 to 70 degrees Celsius.


Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE



The sustainable 640-hectare masterplan is a highly innovative design that is inspired by the planning of traditional Arab settlements, while integrating state-of-the-art technology. The Masdar Institute is the first phase of the city to be completed and is the first campus of its kind to be completely solar powered.



Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Seri Iskandar, Malaysia




The Petronas University of Technology was founded in 1997 and is the region’s largest academic centre for the study of civil, mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering. The crescent-shaped canopies shade the pedestrian paths that weave around the site’s steep hills and lakes.


Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Seri Iskandar, Malaysia


The pioneering campus in the lush tropical landscape of Seri Iskandar, 300 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur also won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007.



Millau Viaduct, Gorges du Tarn, France



The spectacular Millau Viaduct connects the motorway networks of France and Spain, opening up a direct route from Paris to Barcelona. The bridge crosses the River Tarn, which runs through a spectacular gorge between two high plateaux. Making the minimum intervention into the landscape the bridge resolves the relationships between function, technology and aesthetics in a graceful structural form.


Millau Viaduct, Gorges du Tarn, France



Believe it or not, stage 18 of the 2005 Tour de France was routed beneath the recently completed Viaduct to allow race watchers to admire the bridge as the peloton passed below.



Beijing International Airport, Terminal 3, Beijing, China



Beijing’s international terminal is the world’s largest, most sustainable and technologically advanced airport – and at 1.3 million square metres, with a length of 3.25 km, it is one of the largest buildings in the world. It was completed as the gateway to the city for the 2008 Olympics.



Beijing International Airport, Terminal 3, Beijing, China






A symbol of place, its soaring aerodynamic roof and dragon-like form evoke traditional Chinese colours and symbols. It is open to views and planned under a unifying roof canopy, whose linear skylights aid orientation and draw in daylight − the colour of the roof changes from red to yellow as passengers move through the building. Remarkably, the airport was designed, built and commissioned in just four years.




Millennium Bridge, London, England



The Millennium Bridge springs from a creative collaboration between architecture, art and engineering. London’s only pedestrian bridge and the first new crossing on this part of the Thames in more than a century, it links the City and St Paul’s Cathedral to the north with the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern on bankside.


Millennium Bridge, London, England




A key element in London’s pedestrian infrastructure, it has created new routes into Southwark and encouraged new life on the embankment alongside St Paul’s. Structurally, the Millennium Bridge pushes the boundaries of technology. Spanning 320 metres, the bridge opened in June 2000 and an astonishing 100,000 people crossed it during the first weekend.



Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Hong Kong



The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank commissioned the Foster studio to design ‘the best bank building in the world’ – the practice responded by virtually reinventing the office tower. Completed in 1985, the level of flexibility it offered was unprecedented and its design has influenced high rise buildings around the world.


Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Hong Kong



The Bank’s stepped profile is made up of three individual towers, respectively twenty-nine, thirty-six and forty-four storeys high, which create floors of varying width and depth that allow for sky garden terraces. The building has the most escalators on a single site in the world, 62 in total.



Commerzbank Headquarters, Frankfurt, Germany



The Commerzbank is the world’s first ecological office tower and was Europe’s tallest building when it was first completed in 1997. It is 53 storeys high, 298 metres from the ground to the tip of its aerial. Designed to use natural ventilation 65% of the time it now uses it for a surprisingly high 85% of the year.



Commerzbank Headquarters, Frankfurt, Germany



Four-storey gardens are set at different levels on each side of the tower, forming a spiral of greenery that winds up around the building. The tower has a distinctive presence on the skyline but it is also integrated into the lower-scale city fabric, creating a galleria with restaurants and cafés that forms a busy route across the site.



Swiss Re Headquarters, 30 St Mary Axe, London, England



Swiss Re tower – also known as the ‘gherkin’ – is an instantly recognizable symbol of London and won the prestigious Stirling Prize in 2004, the highest accolade in British architecture. It is also London’s first ecological tall building. The design by Foster + Partners is rooted in a radical approach − technically, architecturally, socially and spatially.


Swiss Re Headquarters, 30 St Mary Axe, London, England



At 41 storeys, it provides 76,400 square meters of accommodation, including offices and a shopping arcade accessed from a newly created plaza. At the very top of the building is a club room with a spectacular 360-degree panorama across the capital. Atria between the radiating fingers of each floor link vertically to form a series of informal break-out spaces that spiral up the building and function as the building’s ‘lungs’. Fresh air is drawn up through the light-wells to naturally ventilate the office interiors and minimise reliance on artificial cooling and heating. The result is that the building uses only half the energy consumed by conventional air-conditioned office.



New German Parliament, Reichstag, Berlin, Germany



The glass dome of the Reichstag has become an iconic symbol of Berlin and the city’s most visited tourist attraction – in the first year of opening, it was visited by 3.5 million people. Foster + Partners won an international competition to redevelop the seat of the Bundestag in 1993 and the project opened in April 1999.


New German Parliament, Reichstag, Berlin, Germany



Public and politicians enter the building together and the public realm continues on the rooftop restaurant and in the cupola, where ramps lead to an observation platform, allowing people to ascend symbolically above the chamber. As night falls, this process is reversed, creating a beacon on the skyline. Its environmental performance is equally radical – its modest energy requirements allow the building to perform as a power station for the new government quarter.



The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead, England



The Sage Gateshead is a landmark cultural centre in the north of England, visited by around half a million visitors each year, and has helped to regenerate a formerly industrial riverfront site. The building was completed in 2004. It houses three auditoria and accommodation for the Regional Music School and also acts as a base for the Northern Sinfonia and Folkworks.


The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead, England



The largest of the three main performance spaces is an acoustically state-of-the-art concert hall that seats up to 1,200 people. The entire complex is sheltered beneath an enveloping roof that is ‘shrink-wrapped’ around the buildings beneath and extends over the concourse. Containing cafés, bars, shops, an information centre and the box office, the concourse is like an urban living room – as well as a place to gather before a performance, people drop in for breakfast when it opens at 8am.



The Great Court at the British Museum, London, England



In 2000, one of London’s long-lost spaces was reinvented – the courtyard at the centre of the British Museum. The largest enclosed public space in Europe, at its heart is the magnificent space of the restored Reading Room, now an information centre and library of world cultures, which for the first time in its history is open to all.


The Great Court at the British Museum, London, England



The Great Court is entered from the Museum’s principal level, and connects all the surrounding galleries. The glazed canopy that makes all this possible is a fusion of state-of-the-art engineering and economy of form. As a cultural square, the Great Court resonates beyond the confines of the Museum, forming a new link in the pedestrian route from the British Library to Covent Garden and the river.


GALERI PETRONAS DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE presents ‘’The Art of Architecture by Foster + Partners”. Opening in Kuala Lumpur for the very first time, the exhibition runs from 7 March to 12 May 2013 at GALERI PETRONAS, from 10am to 8pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is free.