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5 Mind-Blowing Pieces of Architecture

Updated on September 7, 2017

Every day we walk past hundreds of buildings, yet we fail to take note of the beauty of both modern and historical architecture. Here are five pieces of architecture that may be considered more works of art than functional pieces of engineering.

5. The Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is the current tallest building in the world. Its name can be translated to “Khalifa’s Tower”, named after the president of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. With an incredible 829.8 meters in height and an unbelievable 163 floors, it broke the world record in early 2010, when the $1.5 billion project was completed. The tower is made of reinforced concrete and steel and is wrapped in glass windows, giving it a shiny, silvery look. In images, it appears to be something straight from a sci-fi film.

4. Taipei 101

Before the Burj Khalifa, there was Taipei 101. Holding the previous world record for height (at 509.2 meters and 101 floors, hence the name), this cascading structure is still the world’s largest and tallest environment-friendly building. The building today serves as Taipei’s financial center, as can be seen by its previous name, the Taipei World Financial Centre. Its ingenuity isn’t in its incredible height though, it’s in the incredible design meant for withstanding the dangerous typhoon winds that plague the island of Taiwan. Today it’s famous for its incredible fireworks launched from the very tip every Chinese New Year.

3. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

This is the only “mistake” on the list, as the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa is, believe-it-or-not, an unintended consequence of poor planning. Located behind the cathedral of Pisa, it was meant to be the bell-tower of said cathedral, but thanks to the architect of the building, it is continuously sinking into the ground and leaning towards the side. The architect in question is still unknown, but it’s probably the famous bronze caster Bonanno Pisano or, more likely, the architect Diotisalvi, who constructed two more buildings in Pisa that are also sinking. Attempts have been made to repair the lean of this Romanesque masterpiece, but they have all been unsuccessful. Still, the symbol of Pisa will always be known for its quirky look.

2. The Walls of Constantinople

This one is for all the history nerds out there. The Walls of Constantinople were a set of fortifications build around the city of Constantinople (today Istanbul), the capital of the now nonexistent Byzantine Empire. The Walls not only rivaled but arguably beats the Great Wall of China, with their incredible design and engineering. Up to twelve meters high, these walls came in two to three layers, with varying height. They were nowhere near as grand as the Great Wall of China, but what’s special about them is their greatest accomplishment. The Ottomans, conquerors of Asia Minor and the Balkans had incredible trouble taking the city of Constantinople. It took the invention of one of the biggest pre-First-World-War guns, the Orban Bombard (also known as the Ottoman Bombard) to take them down, but not fully, as the walls built a thousand years ago, bombarded for weeks at a time, still stand today.

1. The Pantheon

In the center of Rome, the capital of Italy stands a great dome of concrete built, surprisingly, by the ancient Romans. This church was the largest temple in the ancient Roman Empire and was the center of Roman worship and prayer. It boasts the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built, and its secrets are still unknown. It is believed that the still largely mysterious “roman concrete” is the reason this marvelous piece of engineering can still stand. Constructed in 128 AD, it has stood in the city of Rome for more than 1900 years. The marvel of the building is, of course, in the fact that a perfect sphere, 43.3 meters in diameter can be formed inside the building, meaning that an incredible amount of calculations and engineering would have to be involved to form such a brilliant piece of architecture, not replicable even with today’s technology.

Closing Thoughts

Architecture has always been a medium for artistic expression and a reminder of the ability of people that are working together to produce results that no one person alone could achieve.

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    • Cathyrin profile image

      Cathyrin 5 months ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the list, one of my favorites too is the Hagia Sophia. It's a great architectural structure that can tell a lot of about culture, religion and history of Constantinople (now Istanbul).