What is the true value of architecture? Is it the provision of safe, functional and affordable building solutions? Is it the making of an artistic statement? Or is it the challenge architects can pose to the political status quo by reinventing the way we approach, say, public housing or subway stations? The truth lies somewhere in the middle – because when a building is truly worthy of praise, it is capable of doing all three.
Ghana National Museum on Slavery and Freedom, Cape Coast
In September 2016, a museum designed by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye was opened in Washington, D.C. to widespread acclaim. This year, Adjaye will unveil another of his creations: the Ghana National Museum on Slavery and Freedom. Located in Ghana’s Cape Coast, an area known for its role in the slave trade, the museum will sit overlooking the water and will boast a bold, geometric design that blends earthy copper tones with cutting edge materials. Most importantly, this is a site that will commemorate the victims of the slave trade and offer an African perspective on colonialism.
Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin
The most daring architectural designs can often be found in our cultural centers, and Berlin’s brand new concert hall, the Pierre Boulez Saal, is no exception. Named for the composer Pierre Boulez, this space has been designed by Frank Gehry, who donated his services for free. Constructed entirely from wood, this performance space will inhabit a building formerly used as storage for the Berlin State Opera. When it has been finished it will play host to the Barenboim-Said Akademie, an organization devoted to training Middle Eastern classical musicians. As with Adjaye’s museum, this is a building of vast cultural, political and artistic importance.
Apple Park, Cupertino
We live in an increasingly tech-centric world, and architecture has had to adapt to reflect that. This year, we’ll witness the unveiling of Apple Park in the Californian city of Cupertino. Designed by Foster + Partners, this vast circular complex has been built with innovation in mind; 12,000 employees will work on the site, collaborating on projects in the open plan communal areas. The complex will also be home to a 1,000 seat auditorium dedicated to Steve Jobs. Most notable, though, is the central area contained within the ring structure – here you’ll find an orchard, a meadow, a pond, and walking and running tracks for the employees.
Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2017 is Greenery, a shade inspired by all things natural. It’s fitting; across the world, people are becoming more eco-conscious and concerned with the preservation of natural spaces. We are also becoming increasingly aware of how spending time in nature can be beneficial for our mental health and happiness. That’s what makes a design like the Seoul Skygarden so important. Designed by MVRDV, this outdoor complex is being constructed on the site of a former highway next to Seoul’s busy Central Station. It will involve the planting of 254 species of tree, shrub and flower and has been designed with the health, education and day-to-day happiness of Seoul residents in mind.
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