World's Top 10 Architectural Marvels

Exquisite Façades: A Glimpse into the World’s Top 10 Architectural Marvels

Exquisite Façades: A Glimpse into the World’s Top 10 Architectural Marvels

Sep 04, 2023

The façade of a building lends it a character and provides it with countless aesthetic as well as structural benefits. Apart from making it look good for external viewers, a well-designed façade can provide greater energy efficiency and even uplift the mood of the building’s occupants. The façade of a building has a significant impact on how much air and light it receives as well as how well it can withstand external environmental factors. It has been often observed that too many constructions use generic designs that don’t offer any flair and only fulfil regular structural criteria. As a result, our cities are filled with boring, uninspiring structures. Thanks to new materials, ideas, and architectural advancements, a world of possibilities has opened up when it comes to creating a building’s façade design. Let’s understand the benefits of a well-designed façade by taking a closer look at these architectural marvels.

1. Soumaya Museum, Mexico– The museum holds the largest private collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures in the world, including ‘The Thinker’, and consists of about 70,000 pieces of art from the 15th to the middle of the 20th century. The 150-foot tall museum building is designed in the form of a rotated rhomboid supported by 28 curved steel columns of various sizes and shapes and is covered in a skin of 16,000 hexagonal mirrored-steel elements. The building features stunning ceramic-tiled façades that are inspired by colonial-era constructions to mesmerise all the onlookers. 

2. Mediopadana Station, Italy – Considered to be a unique piece of art, the Mediopadana Station is structurally made up of 457 steel frames spaced around one metre apart. A curving longitudinal beam that partially supports each of the ribs is erected every 25 metres using a composite concrete and steel column, to add extra strength to the structure.

3. VI Courtscraper, USA– The design of VI Courtscraper is an eclectic combination of the perimeter blocks found in Europe and a typical American highrise. The building’s 450-foot northeast peak maximises the number of apartments while subtly guarding the river views of the Helena Tower next door. From the west, it resembles a warped pyramid or a hyperbolic paraboloid. From the east, the Courtscraper appears to be a narrow spire.

4. Nakaaoki Branch, Japan- The Nakaaoki Branch is located near a busy junction with heavy traffic. The façade was designed to have a rhythmic expression that changes as people view it from different perspectives. The façade is made up of four cubes of varying depths. The colours on the front or sides of these cubes are each unique, and as the viewer’s viewpoint changes, the colours move or overlap. Small elevated gardens with olive trees and other seasonal flowers like marigolds and lavender are planted inside each of the 12 cubes to symbolise the changing seasons in nature.

5. Antwerp Port House, Belgium- The building has no traditional facade due to its waterfront setting, but all the four elevations provide a great look to the structure. The tower’s original function as a sizable, imposing extension of the fire station was further highlighted by the seamless fusion of modern construction and an old construction that lies near the bottom.

6. VM Houses, Denmark – The VM Houses feature two residential buildings named V and M, based on how they appear when viewed from the air. With glass façades framed by wood and bold, triangular balconies protruding out, the design of the blocks offers a combination of serenity, solitude, and daylight. Every apartment gets diagonal views of the vast surrounding fields, unobstructed by a vis-à-vis with the neighbour. Every flat has a double-height room to the north, and they all offer wide panoramic views to the south.

7. The Broad Museum, USA- Its huge, opaque mass, which floats in the centre of the framework is one of the strongest identity points of this museum. The carvings on the building’s hovering underbelly provide the perfect top view for the lobby below and the public walkways. Another key attraction of the building is its honeycomb-like exterior construction that encircles the block-long building and provides filtered natural light. The museum’s “veil” rises at the corners to let visitors into the bustling lobby.

8. AL Bahar Towers, Abu Dhabi– These two adjacent towers in Abu Dhabi have responsive façades that are inspired by  the “mashrabiya,” an Islamic shade arrangement system. The  Masharabiya shading system for the 145-metre towers provides a terrific transparent look from the outside. By employing a parametric description for the geometry of the actuated façade panels, the team was able to reproduce how the panels behave in response to solar exposure and changing incidence angles throughout the year.

9. Bund Finance Center, China – A moving curtain surrounds the building and shifts to reveal the stage on the balcony and views of the Pudong district in Shanghai. The façade is inspired by the traditional Chinese bridal headdress, and uses a three-track arrangement and layers of 675 distinct magnesium alloy “tassels”.

10. Elbphilharmonie Hamburg- A well-known landmark in Hamburg, the Elbphilharmonie gives the city’s distinctively horizontal architecture a completely new vertical touch. The glass façade, which is mostly made up of curved panels, some of which have apertures carved out of them, to create a stunning visual image as it picks up reflections of the city, the river, and the sky. 


From the Soumaya Museum’s mirrored-steel skin to the Mediopadana Station’s curving steel ribs, these buildings show how creative and innovative architects can be when it comes to designing façades.


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