Hello there! I’m sorry it’s been a terribly long time since I’ve been upon here. I was preparing for this particular post. I’m now in Paris, accompanying my family as they prepare to settle into the deadest suburb outside of Paris for four hopefully (for their sakes) comfortable years. We’re spending New Years Eve in the hotel, but it’s alright, better than having it in Croissy (where we’ll be living) where it is bound to be as silent as my ex-neighbourhood, Tervuren in Belgium.
A few days before we were due to leave South Africa to come up north for winter, in one of my violent bouts of boredom, I picked up an issue of marie claire South Africa (I believe) and went paging, looking for something interesting to read. I found a lot. Especially a fashion spread which showed outfits inspired or similar to iconic buildings in Johannesburg. Buildings I didn’t even know existed. For real. I don’t live downtown, so I guess I’m not expected to know anything about it.
There was mention of Chrysler House, Ansteys, His Majesty Building and Shakespeare Building, and my mind was blank. I did like the pictures they came with, especially that of Ansteys Building. That was when I realised that I am quite taken by and fixated with buildings, especially old ones from the 1920s era and ones that are shaped weirdly or glitter a lot in the day and night.
That propelled me to look up anything about the landmark buildings in Johannesburg, and I found a lot of others which I hadn’t taken notice of. I read up on them, and became more fascinated by them. So this post just seemed fitting, to kind of share my interest in unconventional architecture and design.
As much as I love crazily shaped buildings, I have no desire to become an architect and one day draw the blueprints of the world’s next innovative structure. That’s not odd, right?
Some of the buildings in this post may not even make you feel anything, as they might be rather standard or “everyday” to you, but these are structures that appeal to me. I got captivated by some of them from reading Village of Joy‘s blog on strange buildings, but some of the others were chosen by me personally, and I’ve had the luck to be close to a few.
Note: because I am South African and have had an education tainted with Britishness, I use the metric system for everything that needs measuring. Americans may need to adapt.
Let’s start with the buildings I discovered from Village of Joy:
1. Kansas City Public Library
I think many people can agree that the Kansas City Public Library building deserves to be here. The creative process that went into designing it is genius. There were other libraries that I saw on Village of Joy‘s 50 Strangest Buildings in the World list, and I was shocked that such structures actually contained archives and volumes of books. They looked rather than museums of ultra-contemporary art. Maybe I’m just small-minded.
2. Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the infamous pyramid hotel that the North Korean government failed to complete due to their budget money running out, and which now is kind of hollow and devoid of life on the inside. I’m not saying I like this building, as it must have used up millions of dollars that could have been spent in feeding the North Korean people, but it just makes me sit and wonder how delusional the NK government must be to believe that tourists will want to come pay their “dear country” a visit. Especially if they don’t allow in just anyone.
This haunting pyramid is 330m tall, towering over every single other building in Pyongyang, it seems.
It looks like a deserted alien spaceship which has been allowed to waste on Earth, while all the little earthlings try to get on with life around it. Seriously. The first picture is an image of it as construction has continued on it after a long damn hiatus. The second picture is that of it as it had been left for many years.
3. Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in Colorado Springs, CO
I had to look at the word “chapel” in the name something like three times before I realised, this is a chapel, like a place where people go to pray…
It reaches just 46m, but makes up for all of it by how spiky and futuristic it looks. Amazingly, this structure has four separate chapels within it, for three different faiths: Catholic, Protestant , Buddhist and Jewish.
It is nothing like conventional chapels or what we’re all made to believe chapels are like. I thought it was just some amazing sculpture or memorial or something, I don’t know… the things I think are weird. Just when I thought the exterior was awe-inspiring, then I saw pictures of the inside and I wanted to cry. Such beauty…I’m sure heaven really looks like that.
4. Lloyd’s Building in London, England (apparently also known as the “Inside Out Building”)
If you assumed that this must be some sector of a factory plant, I forgive you. This is home to the insurance company, Lloyd’s of London. The idea for the architecture of this building is much like the one used for Centre Pompidou here in Paris.
Lloyd’s Building is 88m tall and had fourteen floors. All the lifts, stairs and pipes and shit are on the outside. So, on the inside there are just important things like space and light for the employees, because who wants to feel like they work in a basement with walls lined with pipes and shit? Especially when they work in such a grim field like insurance?
I just hope, for the people who make this their place of employment, that the interior is cheery to make up for the gloomy, robotic exterior.
5. Puerta de Europa (Torres KIO) in Madrid, Spain
These twin pillars of the “Gate to Europe” lean. They lean, bidits, like the Tower of Pisa.
I can’t even begin to think about how the architects of these mofos knew they would stand and not fall over into a destructive mess of failure. Each building is 115m tall with 26 floors, and an inclination of 15 degrees. I bet if it were going to be more than 15, then the buildings would fall. And if it were less than 15, then the sight of them leaning wouldn’t be significant.
6. Edificio Mirador in Madrid, Spain
This building looks like a Lego masterpiece. From all the websites I’ve seen that enthuse about it, it goes under the category of “post-modern”. Located north of Madrid, Edificio Mirador is 63,4 m tall with 21 floors. And it is a place where people live. I wouldn’t blame the residents if they ever felt so smug for living in such a beautiful building which towers over all the other apartment flats in the neighbourhood. If it’s not the hole in the building that is the most striking feature about Edificio Mirador, then it is the nine separate blocks which were put together to form this large square, and the bright orange stairwells located all over the building to give it a pop of colour.
7. Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden
This is another building that I am surprised that people live in. And it doesn’t look like just anyone can rent/buy an apartment here. The Turning Torso is the tallest skyscraper in Sweden, and the third tallest residential one in all of Europe, rising up 190 m with 54 floors. The structure was inspired by a sculpture (Twisting Torso) created by Santiago Calatrava, who also is the architect for the building.
The idea to build the Turning Torso came as the city of Malmö needed a landmark and re-establish its skyline, since the Kockums Crane was removed in 2002, a year after construction for the TT began.
That is it for Part 1, and next time, I’ll be laying down a new list of buildings that I have a personally soft spot for in my heart.
P.S. Some of the buildings featured next time are ones I’ve actually lived in