When we think of the future, what do we picture? Chrome crosswalks? Flying inner city buses? Space elevators?
The concept of futuristic architecture has inspired artists and writers for thousands of years, but they say that the truth is stranger than fiction. All over the world there are stunning futuristic buildings that capture the imagination and, ironically, have a truly timeless presence.
Here are Plentific's top 10 futuristic buildings!
The Crystal, located in East London, is one of the world’s most sustainable buildings. It was constructed by engineering and technology company Siemans and hosts the world’s largest exhibition on future cities, with exhibits dealing with common issues from urban planning to smart buildings.
One of the most amazing things about the Crystal is that the building generates its own energy. All the power it needs is drawn from solar panels on the roof as well as a ground source heat pump.
The building’s unique artistic shape betrays a dedication to excellence and awe that permeates London’s most sustainable structure and makes it a popular destination for over 100,000 visitors a year.
The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore were built as part of an effort to transform the city by improving its green spaces while also creating a national icon for both citizens and tourists to enjoy.
The structures is made up of three huge ‘gardens’ that each contain smaller attractions including a heritage garden, a number of lakes and the world renowned ‘Flower Dome’, which was listed in the 2015 Guinness World Records as the planet’s largest glass greenhouse.
What really draws the eye, however, is the incredible ‘Supertree Grove’. These vertical gardens are a striking combination or architecture and nature, with their extensive canopies providing shade for visitors throughout the day. Guests can even tour the heights on the 22m high ‘OCBC Skyway’, which offers stunning views not only of the park but also of the bay beyond.
The Burj Khalifa, which means ‘Khalifa Tower’ in Arabic, is the world’s tallest building, in more ways than one! The super structure’s website merrily points out that the 828m high skyscraper is also both the world’s tallest structure and tallest freestanding structure, with over 160 storeys of homes, leisure facilities, hotel rooms and other features.
Construction of the Khalifa Tower was an incredible feat. Over 110,000 tonnes of concrete were used to build the foundations alone and over 40 wind tunnel tests were conducted to observe how it would stand against different weather conditions.
The views are, of course, awe inspiring, whether from one of the 24,348 windows or from the Burj Khalifa SKY, the world’s highest outdoor observatory.
Manhattan’s W57 Pyramid is a breathtaking insertion of architectural excellence into a relatively typical urban landscape. The ‘pyramid’ (actually a hyperbolic paraboloid), is a residential structure that is all about the awe.
Obviously, one of the most unique aspects of this building is its shape. The sloping roof is, according to architect Bjarke Ingels, “the height of a handrail” at its lowest point and a “high rise” at its apex, while the southwest facade appears to flow downwards in a parabolic dip. The architecture of the W57 is unique in that the building seems to have a new shape for every angle that you view it from.
Careful artistic consideration was given to homeowners at the W57. The large cutaway visible on one side of the building provides a window for residents on the eastern side of the building to enjoy the same views of the Hudson as their neighbours to the west.
The Palazzo Lombardia's higher tower might not have held the title of Italy’s tallest skyscraper for very long, but there is plenty more about this complex of buildings to admire.
The curved appearance of the towers was designed to reflect the geography of Lombardy, and they manage to create a unique artistic space. The void between the two buildings holds a beautiful open air plaza that is open to the public, who can also enjoy a multitude of shops, services and cultural facilities that occupy the podiums at the base of the two buildings.
What’s really interesting about these buildings is the architect’s focus on the use of natural light. The curving glass walls aren’t just beautiful to look at: they are also designed for maximum daylight penetration. Within the walls of the buildings are a number of vertical louvers designed to automatically rotate in response to the changing angles of the sun, minimising solar gain and removing, as much as possible, the need for artificial lighting.
The Galaxy Soho building is pure beauty: the flowing cornerless architecture of the five buildings make the structure seem as if it were sculpted rather than constructed, and the interconnected interiors make it feel almost organic.
Set out over 330,000 square meters, the structure is designed to reflect the incredible scale of Beijing itself and houses a large amount of office, retail and entertainment space. The top floors host a number of bars and restaurants which offer guests panoramic views of the city around them.
Spaceport America: does that one phrase not perfectly embody the word 'futuristic'?
This is not a conceptualised design that might be built in the next decade; no, Spaceport America is already active. Sitting in the New Mexico desert, it is exactly what it sounds like: an operational commercial spaceport. Though it will still be quite a while before everyday people can take trips to the stars, the building already houses the Virgin Galactic spacecraft WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo.
The architecture of Spaceport America seems to blend perfectly with the landscape surrounding it. While the building may be designed for the next phase of space travel, it also pays homage to the decades of work that got us to where we are today with a dedicated exhibition area.
It is rare that modern architecture blends so seamlessly with heritage as it does with the Wine Museum in Lavaux, Switzerland. Lavaux has been an esteemed wine growing region since the Middle Ages, and the design of the Wine Museum stemmed from a desire to attract new tourists to the area.
It achieves this with a uniquely underplayed yet eye opening design. The building sits on a cliff overlooking vineyards in the valley below. With a long jutting walkway, visitors are literally able to walk out over the vineyards for a stunning view, albeit not one for the light hearted.
The Atomium in Brussels may seem like an odd choice for this list, seeing as it has been a star attraction for nearly 60 years, but in many ways it was intentionally ahead of its time.
Structurally, the Atomium screams 'sci-fi'. It is based on the composition of a unit cell of an iron crystal, magnified around 165 billion times. The nine stainless steel spheres (only five of which you can actually enter, sadly) are connected by 20 rigid tubes, which according to the structure's website will quickly make you lose your bearings!
What really makes this building 'futuristic' is the fact that it was made to reflect a vision of the future. It was one of the biggest attractions at the 1958 World Fair of Brussels during a time when Europe remained divided. It represented a desire for a future filled with harmony, progress and, of course, peace.
Literally meaning the 'Market Hall' in English, the Markthal is a futuristic and wonderfully artistic take on the traditional closed market.
From above it appears as a curved structure, but the inside is actually an open tunnel occupied by a marketplace. The rest of the building hosts a number of restaurants, food shops and apartments.
The most remarkable aspect of the building by far is the beautiful mural that occupies the inner arch of the building, from floor to ceiling and down again. This giant mural, the 'horn of plenty' is a modern artistic delight.