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3 Buildings That Transcend Their Intended Purpose

From a verdant hotel in Singapore to an otherworldly chapel in South Africa, these buildings show the true power of great architecture

By Architectural Digest US | July 28, 2020 | Category

We’re all guilty of walking or driving past any number of skyscrapers and buildings as if they didn’t exist, their glass and steel and concrete façade bleeding into the gray of a city’s horizon. Yet, to the keen eye, studying a city’s architecture is a path to better understanding the people of that area—both their current needs and their aspirations for the future. From the Pyramids of Giza to Manhattan’s mighty skyscrapers, the creativity and engineering involved in the molding of solids over voids, and vice versa, is the crux of architecture, and should be appreciated as such. What are buildings but an expression of an idea that fits a modern requirement, with the hope of acceptance from future crowds? Below, AD studies three buildings that we believe can teach us more about the subtleties involved in creating sublime architecture for this century, while carrying it into the next.

Bosjes Chapel by Steyn Studio (Western Cape, South Africa)

Located on a vineyard in South Africa is Bosjes Chapel, a structure that makes us believe something heavy can be ethereal. Which is exactly what the architects at the London-based firm Steyn Studio wanted to happen. “I originally wanted to create awe by making a very heavy object float, as if held in suspension by a divine power, whilst at the same time instilling enough confidence in someone to enter the building,” says Coetzee Steyn, director and founder of the firm. The clients provided the firm with the Bible verse Psalm 36:7, which reads, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” With that, Steyn felt the poetic connection to create a winglike church that could provide such refuge for its followers.

To build the structure, the architects used reinforced concrete, laminated glass, and terrazzo flooring. It was the firm’s hope that each visitor would conceive their own interpretation when viewing the design. “I was adamant that the inspiration for the design shouldn’t be revealed,” adds Steyn. “But rather having it be somewhat recognizable, similar to finding shapes and meaning when looking at the clouds.”

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As we take a breather along with our planet this Earth Day, why not spend some time to appreciate the greenery around you? 🌿 We are definitely blessed with an abundance of green space across the road at Hong Lim Park which served as an inspiration for the design of our hotel-in-a-garden! #earthday #inspiringlyyours 📸: • • • • • #parkroyalcollection #parkroyalhotels #parkroyalpickering #singapore #chinatown #shareyourmoments #todayweexploresg #singaporetoday #archdaily #design #vsco #architecture #travelandleisure #tlasia #huffpostgram #hbouthere #hypebeast #hypebae #vscosingapore #theladbible #bbctravel #visitsingapore #forbestravelguide #designmilktravels

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Parkroyal Collection Pickering by WOHA (Singapore)

Balconies covered in tropical plants surround the Parkroyal, a luxury hotel in Singapore. Designed by the local firm WOHA, the hotel is intended as a verdant extension of Hong Lim Park, a green space located next to the site. “This land is in a prime location of central Singapore, situated between Chinatown and the busy business district,” says Richard Hassell, cofounder at WOHA. “Therefore, it was imperative that our design allow for the space to remain open to the public.” The architects went to great lengths to ensure that the plant life didn’t just act as a public conduit, but had the feeling of real nature. “The form was inspired by a combination of landscaped bonsai arrangements that are made to mimic natural landscapes, mountain rock formations, and terraformed rice paddies.”

The building, which houses 367 rooms, uses a solar-powered automatic irrigation system. The structure also has a rainwater retention system that helps cut down on unnecessary water consumption. “The terraces also help to shade the building from the hot tropical sun, thus reducing the need for air-conditioning and lowering the overall energy needed to run the hotel,” adds Hassell.

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The facade of the Gallery of Furniture showroom is an abstract texture formed by an array of chairs. The chairs are a product manufactured by our client, @mydvagroup ➡️ Swipe to check a couple of photos of the chairs installation process ➡️. What do you think about the concept? #facade #designboom #koozarch #critday #archicage #superarchitects #koozarch #dreammagazine #allofarchitecture #arch_grap #arch_only #showitbetter #designbunker #architecturedaily #archisource #morpholio #architecturefactor #architecturedose #designwanted #chybikkristof #brno @kntxtr #addicted_to_facades #archi_unlimited #creative_architecture #abstractarchitecture @archolution @axo_madness #chairs @archisource @architecture_hunter #archilovers #architecture_view @iarchitectures #arquitectura @arquitetapage @arqsketch @[email protected] #raw_architecture @pampamalama @justfacades @visual.fodder

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Gallery of Furniture by Chybík + Krištof (Brno-Vinohrady, Czech Republic)

Furniture showrooms are rarely remembered for what the exterior of the building looks like, but for the products within. That surely is not the case for this building designed by the young architects at Chybík + Krištof. Founded in 2010, this Prague-based firm is starting to turn heads, and with designs such as the Gallery of Furniture, it’s easy to see why. To create such a memorable design, the architects outfitted the exterior of the building with 900 plastic chairs, all of them uniform in shape and colour. “The inspiration for the design came from the need to find an economically efficient solution to the problem of offering a new face to a furniture showroom,” says Ondřej Chybík, one of the two founding architects. “We eventually realized that the most accessible design was right there all along: the client’s chair, multiplied over the entire façade, protecting the space from the natural elements.”

The Gallery of Furniture does what all great architecture must: making the difficult appear effortless. But in the case of this building, the architects also needed to promote the service within the space. “We needed a façade that could be a banner of sorts,” says Michal Krištof, the second founding architect of the firm. “What we needed was a way to speak of the content within the showroom, but in a less intrusive manner.”

This article was originally published on Architectural Digest