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Top 5 Architectural  Wonders

Architecture isn't just responsible for where we live; it can show us the past, make us think about how we live, who we live with, and even about our place in the world. Here are 5 architectural wonders:

1. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay is an urban nature park spanning 250 acres along central Singapore's Marina Reservoir. The garden was commissioned by the Singapore government and was designed by collaboration of urban planners, environmental designers, architects and structural engineers.

The park consists of 3 gardens; Bay Central, Bay East and Bay South, with the aim of enhancing quality of life and wellbeing through the presence of nature. Bay South is the largest of the 3 with key features, structures, buildings and pathways planned to overall resemble an orchid. The Bay South waterfront is home to two huge cooled conservatories; one being a 'Flower Dome' and the other housing a cloud forest, both providing recreational and educational space.

The Flower Dome is in fact the largest column-less glasshouse in the world and both conservatories have sustainability built in, collecting rainwater for the cooling systems of the most iconic feature of the Gardens; The Supertrees.  

Wikimedia Commons | Jan [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]The other two gardens are open to the public but are both expecting more development in the coming years; Bay Central (the smallest of the 3) acts as a greenspace walkway between Bay East and Bay South and is set to expand over the coming years. While Bay East, currently consisting of 5 themed gardens, is set to receive more themed around water in the future.

2. National Museum of African American History and Culture, USA

This Smithsonian Institution museum was designed by Ghanaian British architect Sir David Frank Adjaye and stands along Washington DC's National Mall. The NMAAHC opened in September last year and was officiated by Obama in its opening ceremony.

Flickr | Rex HammockThe 3 outer structures that make up the building's striking corona are filigreed with geometric patterns. These patterns are reminiscent of iron grilles found in the African-American communities of Charleston and New Orleans.

The museum recognises the struggles of black history with the collection consisting of items belonging to Rosa Parks, Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman, as well as items from the slave trade, Civil Rights Movement and Jim Crow Oppression. It also celebrates African-American culture with memorabilia including James Brown's stage outfits, Chuck Berry's Cadillac and Mohamed Ali's boxing gear. The building itself is also a testament to African-American struggle as a museum recognising black history has been contested since 1915.

3. Atomium, Belgium

Wikimedia Commons | Flickr user Mike Cattell ([1]) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)Already looking ahead of its time, this striking building was actually completed in 1958, and resembles a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165billion times. The Atomium was designed by engineer Andre Waterkeyn as a celebration of Belgian engineering and scientific advancement.

Originally built as an exhibit for the 1958 WorldExpo, the Atomium has stood the test of time now functioning as a museum, and has become one of the most visited buildings in Brussels. The columns connecting the spheres contain stairwell and elevator access to 5 of the 8 spheres, 4 of which containing exhibits about the building itself, as well as temporary exhibitions on science, design, technology and engineering. The top sphere is a restaurant that gives panoramic views.

4. Forbidden City, China

Wikimedia Commons | Ronnie Macdonald (The Forbidden City - Beijing 28) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]The Forbidden City is the largest and longest standing example of Chinese palatial architecture, and is recognised for being the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Construction began in 1406 and by 1420 was finally ready to house China’s imperials. Its 980 buildings served as home for emperors and their close circles from the Ming Dynasty (1420) until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1912).

The 180 acre “City” gains its name from its 52m-wide moat and outer walls that kept commoners out for over 500 years (that and the punishment of instant execution should you try and gain access). It’s a lot more forgiving nowadays as it has since been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and acts as a museum showcasing the art and culture of its time.

The Forbidden City receives over 14million visitors annually making it the most visited art museum in the world.

5. Habitat 67, Canada

Wikimedia Commons | Sylvain Pastor (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],Designed by Moshe Safdie and built in 1967, these Brutalist-style apartments were created to utilise space more ethically than conventional urban housing whilst blending the qualities of suburban garden homes and high-rise living.

Habitat 67 is made up of 354 identical, 600sq-ft prefabricated modules with apartments ranging in size from 1 to 4 modules. There are 158 apartments in total, all of which are connected via open air bridges to instil a sense of community not found in other high-density housing projects.

Every box is also positioned one step back from its neighbour, ensuring all residents have a roof garden and increased overall natural light and airflow. Habitat 67 is still in use today and for its time was an innovation in improving wellbeing and community in an urban environment.

Flickr | Ken RatcliffThese are just 5 of the many architectural wonders around the globe encompasing history, sustainability, community and innovation. New buldings today have more technology and efficiency incorporated into their design, but these 5 have definitely played a role in shaping the future of architecture.

By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern

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