Innovative, arty and experimental, Asia’s spectacular modern buildings often raise an eyebrow. While some of these creations have been endearing, others have also been controversial and even earned a nickname or two. Whatever your thoughts on the list below, they may well worth be adding to your to-do list during your next trip.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore
This purpose-built performing arts centre is often referred to as the durian with a shape rather characteristic of the popular, if smelly, fruit. Others have said it looks like the eyes of a fly. Located along the Marina Bay, it contains a concert hall and theatre and has a busy program with festivals, recitals, concerts and events throughout the year. Whatever you think of the design, it has hosted some of the world’s best musicians and performers.
Grand Lisboa, Macau
Another building resembling a fruit is the glittering casino of Macau. The Grand Lisboa was completed in 2007 by Stanley Ho. It was originally designed to appear like a lotus leaf resting on a sphere, but has come out more like a pineapple. It’s also ranked 118 in the world’s tallest list. Inside the casino features 430 rooms and suites, 268 tables, 786 slot machines, 12 restaurants, 24-hour entertainment and the Star of Stanley Ho – a 218.08 carat diamond.
The Erdos Museum, China
Designed by MAD Architects, perhaps a fitting name given some of their amazing concepts, the Erdos (also spelled Ordos) Musueum in Inner Mongolia is kind of a curved spherical shell. Inside are items telling the story of the culture and history of the region. The curving corridors between the various exhibition spaces are meant to connect outer and inner worlds or the past and the future.
Nakagin Capsule Tower, Japan
Resembling something akin to a stack of lego blocks, the Nagakin is somewhat romantically linked to Japan’s obsession with modular living and the idea that structures could be created out of cells, just like they are in nature. While the building design is considered outdated now – it was built in 1972 – it’s interesting to note that the idea of capsule living still exists in Japan, as evident in the number of capsule hotels springing up. Residents of the Nakagin had to put up with cramped conditions and a bathroom the size of an airplane’s. The architect designed these spaces with the notion that in the future people would live a more nomadic lifestyle and interchange between various residences and therefore only need a small area to rest in. The building consisted of 140 capsules, of which just 30 were reported to be in use in 2012 when it was slated for demolition.
Urban Forest, China
The image of this futuristic building below looks impossible and it may prove to be so as this tower is still yet to be built. Another creation by China’s MAD Architects, this project is inspired by the various mountain landscapes of the country and is supposed to embody green elements within the urban centre. Each slice of the tower stack is shifted horizontally to provide garden spaces and patios. The 385m high concept is proposed for Chongqing – watch this space.
Taipei 101, Taiwan
While not particularly startling in and off itself, this landmark skyscraper absolutely dwarfs the Xinyi District it’s located in. It was also the world’s tallest building from 2004 until 2010 at 509 metres and 101 floors (five are underground). The design won a number of award,s including being the largest green building in the world. It can also withstand typhoons and earthquakes.
Beijing National Stadium, China
Purpose-built for the 2008 Olympic Games, the Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, was synonymous with the emergence of the rising power at that time and the incredible feats of athletes such as 100 metre sprinter Usain Bolt. With it’s 90,000 seat capacity, low maintenance design, rainwater collection and amazing heating and cooling abilities, it’s design was an easy winner from amongst the bids of leading architects at the time. But today it is largely empty with just a small, passing tourism trade. Attempts to utilise it since and help pay upkeep costs of $11 million a year haven’t been too successful. These attempts include creating man-made ski slopes, a waxworks museum and a Segway race track.
National Centre for the Performing Arts, China
Another of Beijing’s purpose-built structures for the 2008 Summer Olympics, this building has been nicknamed the giant egg for obvious reasons. The ellipsoid dome is surrounded by an artificial lake. Inside it seats 5,400 people in three halls. It hosts opera, music, ballet, dances and other performances. However, its location in Beijing near very traditional structures such as the Forbidden City and the Great Hall of the People made it a controversial project at the time.
Robot building, Bangkok
The Bank of Asia designed its building to look like a robot to symbolize the modernization of banking. While it looks like it could transform and take off, the robot features are largely thanks to the use of receding walls, antennas and some eyes at the top. It was built in 1985. The architect Sumet Jumsai was apparently inspired by his son’s toy robot in creating the design.
Fuji Television building, Tokyo
If you ever wondered why the Japanese make such quirky television, this may be your answer. The Fuji Television Network, Inc. operates in this building in Daiba, Minato in Tokyo. The building is the third of its headquarters and designed by architect Kenzo Tange. The rather striking building features a huge silver ball that is 32 metres in diameter and weighs 200 tonnes. It sits in position 123 metres from the ground and is used as an observation deck – you can enter for a small fee. It is also earthquake proof.