Announced by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and its sister organization Le Korsa in May, Bët-bi in rural Senegal is intended to bring “the joys of visual art to a population that may not previously have had access to museums.” The building, designed by Nigerian architect Mariam Issoufou Kamara and her firm Atelier Masōmī, will showcase both contemporary and historic art from sub-Saharan Africa and the African Diaspora, as well as pieces from other cultures to illustrate shared visual motifs. Yet what truly separates this project is how it aims to bring the community into the space. The site features accessible, open areas, such as a library, a café and a place for local artisans to showcase their work.
25th Most Influential Project of 2022
“Everyone loves to talk about being carbon neutral, but it’s really hard and really expensive. We’re trying to set a precedent others will follow,” Tim Leiweke, CEO of developer Oak View Group (OVG), told Time magazine. Bold words for a bold project: A US$1.15 billion push to turn Seattle’s 60-year-old stadium into the world’s first net-zero carbon arena in the world—while also doubling its size. But the team ultimately prevailed: The 18,100-seat Climate Pledge Arena celebrated its grand opening in October 2021—and now serves as home to two professional athletic teams and hosts concerts by stars like Billie Eilish and Bruce Springsteen.
44th Most Influential Project of 2022
Nestled in the shadows of the Great Wall ruins in China’s Chengde region, the Chapel of Sound is an engineering and acoustic marvel—no less impressive when the open-air concert hall is empty than when filled with music. Commissioned by development company Aranya and designed by Beijing’s Open Architecture, the project is part of the local government’s efforts to attract tourists to the remote area. Construction began in April 2018, and the project was completed in October 2021—offering visitors a unique experience, come rain or shine.
46th Most Influential Project of 2022
Unlike most museum warehouses that are off limits to everyday visitors, Rotterdam’s Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is billed as the “world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility.” It might also be the world’s coolest. A repository for the 151,000-piece collection of its sister site, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the bowl-shaped, mirror-paneled building features a soaring 35-meter-high (115-foot-high) atrium, six floors of artwork (organized into five protective “climate zones”), a restaurant and events space and a tree-lined rooftop garden. While brainstorming the project, architects from Dutch studio MVRDV drew inspiration from an unlikely source: a humble, €3.99 stainless steel salad bowl from Ikea. Their fully realized vision cost a good deal more than the bowl, of course, with the price tag coming in around €90 million. Following a four-year build, the depot opened to the public in November 2021.
Before her death in 2016, renowned architect Zaha Hadid designed some of the world’s most iconic buildings. One of her final projects debuted in March: the new HQ of Middle Eastern waste management company Beeah Group in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Like all of Hadid’s works, it’s a masterpiece of form and function. As executed by her eponymously named studio, a gently sloping, dune-shaped campus ingeniously harnesses (and deflects) energy from the city’s blistering desert sun. And the net-zero building boasts a solar farm and a climate-controlling smart management system, too. The company has declared the AI-infused structures “one of the most sustainable and smartest buildings in the world.”
Converted train cars, covered wagons and elaborate treehouses that would make any kid envious: Browsers can find some pretty wild accommodations through Airbnb’s new OMG! filter—one of 55 new search categories launched by the online lodging marketplace in May as part of a major platform redesign. To lure more eyeballs to its revamped site, the company unveiled its OMG! Fund, which will award 100 hosts US$100,000 apiece to create spectacular spaces worthy of the recognition. A panel of judges (including style icon Iris Apfel) is slated to select the winners later this year. For teams to earn the full amount, projects must be executed by August 2023. “The weirder the better,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted, describing his ideal submissions. That’s a clarion call to creative hosts if ever there was one.
For 50 years, two interconnected towers of 140 prefab steel pods, each about the size of a shipping container, stacked and rotated at varying angles, stood in Tokyo’s Ginza district. The striking structure was the Nakagin Capsule Tower. Built in 1972 by architect Kisho Kurokawa, it’s remembered as a quintessential example of Metabolist architecture, a postwar movement that anticipated—and was designed to accommodate—a structure’s potential modifications and eventual obsolescence. In this case, the tiny homes were designed to be rotated out or repaired every 25 years, but that never happened due to a lack of funding—which led to their dilapidation. Now, the aging tower has reached its end, with demolition begun earlier this year. Yet just because it’s being dismantled, Japanese digital consultancy Gluon doesn’t believe it should be forgotten. So it’s working with the Nakagin Capsule Tower A606 Project to create a hyperdetailed 3D digital model of the building. In much the same way that libraries contain our literary history, so too, the project’s leaders feel, should our architectural story continue to be told. Created by capturing more than 20,000 photographs of the structure before its destruction—many taken via drone—as well as a complex laser scan of its entire exterior, the virtual model will live on an open-source website for anyone to access.
Ensconced on the campus of the Swiss government’s Empa materials science and technology labs since 2016, the NEST is a crucible of innovation—where architects, engineers and academics test boundary-pushing concepts. Along the way, the building itself has been metamorphosing, adding and subtracting research and innovation units over time. The latest, known as HiLo, opened in October 2021—and could transform construction. A team from Swiss STEM university ETH Zurich and Zurich’s ROK Architekten spent 10 years collaborating to meld architectural elements from the distant past with technologies of the future—all with a goal of delivering high performance and low emissions. For instance, while HiLo’s curved roofs call to mind the Gothic arches of the medieval period, they were built using a flexible framework of concrete ribs, which reduces the use of timber and construction waste. There’s also a floor system that requires dramatically less concrete and steel as well as an adaptive solar facade that uses learning algorithms to help minimize the building’s energy demand.
A pride of African lions now roams a savanna-style habitat fit for the kings of the jungle…in the heart of Chicago. When the Lincoln Park Zoo set out to expand its lion habitat, doubling the size was only one of the requirements. The zoo had actively observed the lions for years, and turned that treasure trove of data over to Goettsch Partners and PJA Architects to inform the design. Subtle but significant features in the 54,000-square-foot (5,017- square-meter), US$41 million Pepper Family Wildlife Center include embedded heating and cooling zones, climbing trees to encourage engagement and areas for the animals to seek shade and privacy. For humans, upgrades include the Lion Loop, which allows visitors to safely view the big cats from the habitat’s center and through skylights, as well as the meticulous restoration of the landmark 1912 Arts and Crafts style lion house, the zoo’s architectural crown jewel.
Nintendo is one of the biggest players in the gaming biz. But a noteworthy piece of its history—its first headquarters, built in 1933—sat forgotten for more than six decades. Then came the transformation, when the empty landmark was reimagined as the boutique hotel Marufukuro. To overhaul the Kyoto space, renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando and hospitality group Plan Do See had to completely renovate three separate structures (the headquarters, warehouse and founders’ residence). And carrying on the storied city’s balancing act between past and future, the team worked to honor the original buildings’ distinctive mix of both Japanese and Western styles. The 18-room stunner, which also features a new annex and a library that pays homage to Nintendo’s heritage in hanafuda playing cards, opened in April.