From a housing development that resembles a flying saucer more than an apartment complex, to tropical office spheres in the heart of the city, a hotel that appears to have grown out of the ground, and a library large enough to house over a million books, we take a look at some of the most inspiring and exciting architecture to come out of 2018!
China – Morpheus hotel by Zaha Hadid Architects
Designed to display what Zaha Hadid Architects call “the world’s first free-form high-rise exoskeleton”, the surreal appearance of the Morpheus hotel in Macau certainly live up to its namesake, the Greek god of dreams! That exoskeleton doesn’t just give it a unique and unmistakable appearance though – it also does away with the need for many internal walls or columns, allowing greater design freedom in the interior spaces as well. The hotel boasts 12 panoramic lifts, a 35-meter-high atrium-lobby space and two sky bridges. Also featured is an ever-changing collection of modern art, onsite luxury spa, gym complete with VR tech and the stunning sky pool, located 130 meters off the ground on the 40th floor! Morpheus was completed in May and opened to the public in June 2018.
Canada – 62M Condominium, Winnipeg – 5468796 Architecture
The ‘flying saucer’, the ‘hockey puck’, ‘the UFO’ – these are just a few of the nicknames 62M has earned for itself with locals! Despite its iconic looks, the unusual shape and design of the condominium complex was actually a clever solution to very real-world and very familiar construction constraints – namely a tight budget and a small, tricky site located near a highway.
Reminiscent of the pieces you’d use when playing a game of Trivial Pursuit, 20 pie-shaped apartments constructed over two layers floating above 20 columns around the site’s perimeter make a striking addition to the Winnipeg skyline. Aside from apartment housing, the condo also features one suite for temporary stays with a difference. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the build, however, is the way it so vividly demonstrates that housing doesn’t need to be conventional to be affordable. And hey, with forklift rentals becoming more accessible and affordable for the public, you might even be inspired to build your own flying saucer home!
Qatar National Library by OMA architects, Doha
Recently nominated in the completed cultural buildings section of the 2018 world architecture fair, the Qatar National Library takes open-plan to a completely new level. Covering a massive 42,000 square meters with space for literally thousands of readers and over a million books, the Qatar National Library (QNL) is perhaps even more impressive inside than out.
The heritage library section, which houses priceless historical Islamic texts, appears to have been excavated from the ground like an archeological site. In the main open-plan library space, bookshelves constructed from the same white marble as the floor give the appearance that they form part of the building structure itself. QNL was opened to the public in April of 2018 by Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and her highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. You can find more stunning visuals of the library here.
UK – Secular Retreat by Peter Zumthor, Devon
Dubbed a “domestic Stonehenge”, the really ingenious aspect of this massive holiday home is how it fits in so effortlessly with its surroundings, complementing and reflecting the natural beauty of the Devon countryside. Secular Retreat, which was completed in October of 2018 after four years of construction, combines state of the art modern mathematical construction and design with rough concrete mixed from local materials and rammed by hand – created layer by layer so that each day’s work is actually visible in the structure’s walls. Featuring five bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a large open-plan living area and kitchen, the home’s floor to ceiling windows throughout keep the focus where it should be – on the surrounding countryside.
USA – Amazon Spheres, Seattle
Opened in January of 2018, Amazon really managed to live up to their name with this amazing project! Located at their headquarters campus in downtown Seattle, the structure consists of three glazed orbs constructed from 620 tons of steel and clear tessellated glass in a geometric pattern found in nature which is called a Catalan solid. The spheres share an indoor open-plan area which houses over 40,000 plants and makes for some truly one-of-a-kind board meetings for the Amazon employees lucky enough to work here. Fortunately, the Spheres are open to the public too, thanks to the lower garden area which doubles as a visitor center.
And in true Amazon style, CEO Jeff Bezos officially opened the project via a voice command to digital assistant Alexa!