Nature abounds with curves and artists and architects revel in them. Compared to straight lines, curves are gentle and sensual, even poetic. This post showcases the visual appeal of curves in architectural structures around the world, designed by some of the world’s foremost architects.
The Chapel at Ronchamp in France was designed in 1955 by Le Corbusier (1887-1965), one of the leading architects of modern times. It is said to be the most sculptural of Le Corbusier’s buildings. A stand-out feature of the chapel is the dark, thickened roof, inspired by a crab shell, resting on broad linear walls, giving it a transcendental spatial effect.
The tiny German town of Weil am Rhein has long been a magnet for those with an eye for detail, a penchant for striking forms and clever curves, and an appreciation of making everyday living extraordinary. It is the home of the Vitra Campus, a design wonderland showcasing the works of renowned architects of the 20th century. The Vitra Museum is the centrepiece of the campus, and is designed by the famed American architect, Frank Gehry (b. 1929).
The Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Designed to bring the world’s flora under one roof, the Flower Dome at Singapore’s Garden by the Bay holds the Guiness Book Record as the largest glass greenhouse in the world. The megastructure and the adjacent “Cloud Forest” was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects
The museum was designed by architect Moshe Safdie as a space dedicated to the dynamic interplay between art and science. The standout feature of the museum is the flower-like structure that rises from the ground, made of ten petals of varying radii that seem to above the landscaped lily pond base.
The City of Arts and Sciences is an architectural gem in the heart of the Spanish city of Valencia. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the structure comprises a science museum, an opera house, a planetarium, a promenade, and a parking space. Built between 1998 and 2003, the buildings are surrounded by shallow pools. Two streamlined bridges, also designed by Calatrava, cross the promenade between the Opera House and the Planetarium. The whole complex features copious use of curves and lines in white concrete that join the various buildings into a harmonious whole.
The Curving House, Korea. Designed by JOHO Architecture, this house beside a mountain in South Korea has a curved grey-brick facade that its architects compare to the body of a fish.
In 1958 Felix Candela designed a masterpiece that would continue inspiring architects around the world to this day. His experiments with construction and thin-shell structures gave life to this iconic restaurant in Xochimilco, Mexico city. Inspired by a form of a flower, the complex building consists of four intersecting “petals” and blue glass windows opening up to a refreshing canal.
One of the most talked-about architecture, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao has become more than an icon. The project was so acclaimed that the expression “Guggenheim effect” was coined to define the reconversion of a place through a single building,
The Guggenheim building is a fantastic example of human centered design. Lloyd Wright focus was on the museum goers experience, which he visualized as a flawless flow from the ticket desk to the artworks and back. The structure has a functional center in the ample atrium, which is the start and the end of the visit. The smooth walk along the concentric staircase is meant to complement the act of viewing the paintings. Light slopes downward, which makes walking and standing less wearisome and visitors are liberated from the stress of climbing stairs.
Buildings are not only containers, but they can also take an active role in the interpretation of space and art as exemplified by the Museo Colecao Berardo in Lisbon. Shown here is a large mobile sculpture by Alexander Calder that wouldn’t have made such a statement if it weren’t for the museum’s stunning double spiral white staircase.
Tianjin Binhai Library, China. Designed by the Dutch firm MVRDV, this futuristic-looking library in China might be the most exciting place to read a book, as well as a never-ending visual treat for curve lovers from every angle.