The summer season is among the most popular times for vacations, with millions of American families traveling during the month of August each year. According to the Travel Channel, some of the most popular summer destinations for vacationers include Rome, Cancun, Paris, London and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
While enjoying an international getaway, there are many ways for visitors to immerse themselves in another culture. By sampling each region’s distinctive food, music, and historic landmarks, travelers can explore a new corner of the world.
Another way to understand a culture is by experiencing local architecture. Beyond visiting the world-famous icons featured on so many postcards – the Taj Mahal, the Louvre, the Colosseum – much can be gained by discovering some of the new or lesser-known buildings and architectural trends taking hold outside the United States.
A number of groundbreaking designs, construction, and engineering feats have been completed over the past several months, with many others on the horizon in 2019. For instance, last year, China built more skyscrapers than the rest of the world combined, and a Singapore-based senior citizens housing complex was recognized as the World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the most exciting projects and building trends from around the world:
- In March, the world’s largest underwater restaurant opened in Norway. Resting 16 feet beneath the surface of the North Sea, the 110-foot-long structure can seat 100 guests across three floors, all offering panoramic aquatic views. Given the challenging environment, architects used reinforced concrete and acrylic windows built to withstand the area’s harsh conditions and water pressure.
- Soon, South Africa will welcome the Leonardo, a 55-floor mixed-use development, to the Sandton, Johannesburg skyline. The property will include street-level shops as well as an above-ground platform, where a swimming pool, restaurant, and several other facilities will be located. Upon completion, at 745 feet, the Leonardo will become the tallest building in Africa (or at least until the 1,050-foot-tall Pinnacle Tower makes its debut in Kenya next year).
- Opening in October, Beijing’s new 7.5 million-square-foot airport is expected to see 45 million travelers pass through its doors every year. The terminal was inspired by traditional Chinese architecture with an emphasis placed on attracting natural light through its vaulted roof and 350-foot-diameter skylight.
- The long-overdue restoration of Berlin Palace, which was destroyed during World War II, is finally nearing completion. Its centerpiece museum, the Humboldt Forum, is scheduled to open at the end of this year. Located on Museum Island, the controversial large-scale project has been described as the “German equivalent” of the British Museum; its eastern facades face the River Spree with its clean, modern design while its other wings reflect the original Baroque Schloss design.
- M+, the new museum of “visual culture,” is currently under construction in Hong Kong’s cultural district. This impressive structure is set to become one of the largest museums of visual arts in the world, which many claims will put Asia at the center of design innovation. The 700,000 square feet building resembles an upside-down T, complete with restaurants, lounges, and gardens in addition to offices and research facilities. An LED lighting display system will be integrated into the horizontal louvers on the facade, serving as a gigantic screen for works of art that will be visible across Victoria Harbor. M+ is scheduled to open in 2020 or 2021.
Boston also has a number of high profile projects upcoming including Boston Properties’ Back Bay/South End Gateway and Millennium Partners’ Winthrop Square tower in Downtown Crossing. Coupled with other new additions to the Boston skyline, such as Millennium Tower which is located at the corner of Washington and Franklin streets, these developments are contributing to the city’s new look and feel.
These projects, among many others, will likely influence urban planning and architectural discussions for years to come. In addition to their aesthetic innovation, each will contribute to ongoing conversations around the use of space and the direction of energy efficiency both globally and here in the United States.