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Great architecture stands the test of time and the testimony to their greatness is proved by some of great works still standing after centuries hence they were conceived and executed.

Some of the greatest works of this century that have been realised in modern material defy the laws of physics, and beauty too. While some buildings are associated with the architect who brought it to life, others are often unique to the country and milieu where it is situated paying tributes to a bygone culture or civilisation. Here we feature some of the modern works of architecture from across the world.

Burj Khalifa,
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Rising a dizzying 2,717 feet above the desert, Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates featured as our opening photograph, is a spectacular super tower that reigns as the tallest structure in the world. Its 162 floors contain offices, residences, restaurants, an Armani hotel, and an observation deck, 124 stories up. The strength of its design stems not only from its awe-inspiring verticality but also from its sleek silhouette. Wrapped in a glass curtain wall with steel mullions that catch the Arabian sun, the building tapers gradually from its Y-shaped base, with setbacks culminating in a 700-foot spire.

Gardens by the Bay,
Singapore

Side-by-side parabolic conservatories of glass and steel anchor this cutting-edge botanical garden, Gardens by the Bay, in Singapore’s booming Marina Bay district. Named the 2012 building of the year by the World Architecture Festival, the Wilkinson Eyre–designed structures replicate distinct climates—one dry, the other humid—allowing for diverse attractions like a flower meadow and a misty mountain forest.

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Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre,
ReykjavÍk, Iceland

Even before its official opening, Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre breathed new life into the Icelandic capital’s once-sleepy harbour, captivating local people and luring visitors with its kaleidoscopic façade of multi-colour glass. The crystalline shell, conceived by artist Olafur Eliasson, complements the structure’s aggregate of jagged, geometric volumes. At night, exterior LED strips activate, transforming the waterfront landmark into a shimmering beacon of beauty.

 

Linked Hybrid,
Beijing

Composed of eight connected towers, Linked Hybrid in Beijing is a mixed-use complex representing a compelling vision for 21st-century urban development. To combat the isolation often associated with luxury residential buildings and gated communities, the architects placed wide, open passages at ground level, ushering pedestrians into a series of public spaces that include gardens, shops, restaurants, and schools.

The Shard,
London

Familiar to watchers of last summer’s Olympic Games, The Shard. London is a 72-story skyscraper — the tallest in Western Europe — that transformed the UK capital’s skyline, rising on the southern banks of the Thames. Inspired by church steeples, the structure comprises eight angled glass façades that reflect the surrounding city and sky and offer glimpses inside. Intended by Renzo Piano Building Workshop to act as a vertical village, the multifunctional building includes offices, apartments, restaurants, and a hotel—all crowned by a recently opened observation platform, which affords stunning views in every direction.

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Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Dallas, Texas, United States
Architect Thom Mayne, the Pritzker Prize–winning founder of Morphosis, is famous for breaking the mould, and his latest building is no exception. Sheathed in panels of textured concrete, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas consists of a five-story cube, fractured at one corner and set atop a sweeping plinth planted with Texas grasses. Slashed across the cube’s exterior is a dramatic glass-enclosed escalator, which whisks visitors to the top-floor entrance to the exhibits.

Parrish Art Museum,
Water Mill, New York

Topped by a double-gable roof of white corrugated metal, the Parrish Art Museum’s strikingly horizontal new home in New York melds brilliantly with its setting, nodding in form to both the traditional barns and the cottagelike artist studios that have long been associated with Long Island’s East End. Inside the poured-concrete structure—devised by architect Ascan Mergenthaler, a senior partner at the Swiss firm—inviting galleries joined by a central spine are warmed by natural-wood ceilings and abundant skylights.

Guangzhou Opera House,
Guangzhou, China

Zaha Hadid’s Opera House for the southern industrial city of Guangzhou is a testimony to the British Iraqi architect’s aesthetics. The venue consists of two dynamic fluid-form structures, the larger housing an undulating, gilded 1,800-seat hall and the smaller home to a more intimate 400-seat space. The buildings are clad in great expanses of steel-framed glass and granite panels—the complexity of which led to challenges during construction and in ongoing maintenance. But the futuristic complex is an emphatic statement on the ambitions of 21st-century China.

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Metropol Parasol,
Seville, Spain

When excavation for a parking garage unearthed Roman artifacts in Seville’s Plaza de la Encarnación, city officials opted to commission a welcoming landmark called Metropol Parasol instead. Some 90 feet high and nearly 500 feet long, the billowing timber pavilion is part pergola, part urban parlor. Viewing platforms are perched atop the organic forms, which also shelter restaurants and an archaeological museum.

Absolute World,
Mississauga, Ontario

Absolute World, Mississauga, Ontario, consists of residential high-rises that strike a unique profile in Toronto’s largest suburb. With continuous balconies and elliptical floor plans, the 50- and 56-story skyscrapers appear to shimmy and twist, each around its own axis.
Such creative formmaking is the focus of the young Beijing firm, whose design was executed in coordination with Burka Architects. The Absolute towers offer a refreshing take on a familiar building type.