Heatherwick Studio’s UK Pavilion at last year’s Shanghai Expo resembled a giant sea urchin. The 20 metre-high building was made of 60,000 optical strands, each with a seed embedded in its tip. The point? To promote the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank, which preserves plantlife faced with extinction. It attracted 50,000 visitors a day.
Blending seamlessly with the landscape at the Xi’an International Horticultural Expo in China (which opened last April and runs until October 22), the Creativity Pavilion by Plasma Studio aims to express China’s ambitions through architecture. It’s formed of three dramatically angular, integrated buildings, each one cantilevered to offer visitors shade, while the concrete and bronze interior has unparalleled framed views out over the lake.
Set up by philosopher Alain de Botton to revolutionise the way we perceive UK holiday rentals, Living Architecture offers British holiday-makers an alternative to the cute cottage: six ultra-modern houses that represent the best in contemporary architecture. A team of architects from around the world — including Dutch firm MVRDV and Scottish practice NORD — were brought on board to create these cutting-edge visions of beauty.
It might have taken 76 years, but when the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel finally re-opened a few months ago with its glorious Victorian gothic interior fully restored, it proved worth the wait. From the plush crimson and gold staircase to the Sir George Gilbert Scott suite — recreated in its original 19th-century state — and a new wing by conservation architect Richard Griffiths, it represents old-fashioned opulence at its finest.
The opening of the Hepworth Wakefield gallery earlier this year instantly made Yorkshire into a must-visit art destination. Designed by stellar British architect David Chipperfield, the building’s dramatic concrete structure is made up of ten connected, sculptural galleries — all of which cleverly complement Barbara Hepworth’s sculptural legacy, which is housed inside.