BEIJING NATIONAL STADIUM: BEIJING
Designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron for the 2008 Olympic Games, the locals nicknamed this stadium the “Bird’s Nest” before it was even completed. The stadium accommodates concerts and other special events, and also hosted the Winter Olympics in 2022.
Originally constructed for Expo 1958, this quirky building features nine interconnected spheres measuring 102-meters high. Engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak modeled it after an iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times to represent faith in scientific progress. Today the interior is home to a museum and several temporary exhibits.
30 ST MARY AXE: LONDON
Renowned architect Norman Foster wasn’t inspired by a pickle when he designed this 180-meter building better known as the Gherkin. The building’s surface, made from adhered layers of diamond-shaped glass arranged in a lattice design, is actually modeled after the Venus’ flower basket sea sponge.
HELIX BRIDGE: SINGAPORE
An international team, assembled from Architects 61 in Singapore and Cox Architecture and Arup, designed this footbridge stretching over Marina Bay. The inspiration comes from the double helix structure of a DNA molecule. Opened in 2010, the 280-meter-long curved structure has five viewing platforms, giving pedestrians spectacular views of the skyline from across the waterfront.
LOTUS TEMPLE: NEW DELHI
This temple in the village of Bahapur in New Delhi looks quite different. Inspired by the shape of the lotus flower, architect Fariborz Sahba conceived of 27 freestanding marble "petals" arranged in groups of three to form nine sides.
ALDAR HEADQUARTERS: ABU DHABI
This circular skyscraper has glittered against the seafront desert landscape of Abu Dhabi since 2010. In tribute to the city’s maritime heritage, Marwan Zgheib and his Lebanon-based firm MZ Architects were inspired by the clam shell. Standing at 110 meters (23 stories tall) on an elevated peninsula, the building boasts both city and waterfront views.
TAIPEI 101: TAIPEI
Standing at 510 meters tall, this 101-story skyscraper was the tallest building in the world when it opened in Taipei’s modern Xinyi District in 2004. Renowned architect C.Y. Lee modeled it after a bamboo stalk. There are a total of eight segments comprised of eight floors each—a lucky number in Chinese culture.