The year 2020 saw some major setbacks across all industries, including architecture. Due to the well-known circumstances which had a global effect, numerous projects had to be temporarily or permanently shut down.
However, with the arrival of 2021, plenty of outstanding projects in architecture were finally continued, while some were even completed.
Therefore, 2021 was and continues to be a big year for architecture. In this article, you can find the top ten most exciting architectural projects of 2021 that will leave no one indifferent. With their innovative and creative solutions, these ten projects certainly marked architectural progress in 2021.
The epitome of luxury, elegance, and craftsmanship, the new Hermès Atelier is, without a doubt, one of the most important architectural projects of 2021.
Located at 17 Rue de Sèvres, Paris, this Hermès Atelier has been here since 2011. Nevertheless, it was renovated at the beginning of this year to discover a new approach to architecture, design, fashion, art, and how these industries mix and match together.
Featuring a spacious and open-concept store, the space is embellished with large wooden sculptures that display their own luxurious products. Created around the original staircase and three massive ash huts, the store retained the most monumental parts of the original design but with a contemporary twist.
Home to all Hermès items, including apparel, accessories, cosmetic products, furniture collections, and equestrian goods, visitors can explore unique settings by taking a trip through time. Namely, the Hermès Atelier combines contemporary and traditional architecture by implementing contrasting elements into their design.
For instance, the modern glass ceiling is paired with decorative meanders and light fixtures designed for Hermès in 1925, while the elegant ceramic tiles highly popular during the 1930s match exquisitely with the contemporary and colorful art that embellishes the walls of the Atelier.
As a perfect blend of modern and traditional, class and popularity, warm and cool tones, Hermès once again proved its sense for innovation and creativity.
After years and years in the planning phase, the International African American Museum is finally in the construction phase. However, the IAAM is anything but a traditional museum – it’s a site created to tell a story about the African American people and their troublesome journey.
Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the core location of this museum isn’t a coincidence. Placed in a historical part of the city where almost half of all enslaved Africans first set foot on American land, the international museum focuses on the life of African American communities from slavery to emancipation, and finally, freedom.
Besides having a clear goal of sharing the untold narratives commonly overlooked by historians, this memorial site will also be used as a place for many events, manifestations, and even celebrations organized by the African American community.
Featuring a one-story building rising 13 feet above the ground thanks to the 18 cylindrical columns, the underside of the building represents the heart of the community with a large open space. Additionally, the pool located on the eastern side represents the waters of the Gadsden’s Wharf, which was the point of arrival for many enslaved Africans.
Moreover, implementing materials such as warm brick, clear glass in combination with wooden louvers, and oyster shell tabby, as well as artistic expressions of the Gullah and Lowcountry community, the IAAM strives towards empathy and understanding of the past which their visitors will experience by exploring the museum.
An abstract creation located in the Chinese city Dali, the Yang-Liping Performing Arts Center, is designed to create a link between nature, culture, and art.
The Yang-Liping Performing Arts Center is located in the northeastern part outside of the ancient city of Dali, while it’s surrounded by farms, woods, wetlands, streams, and neighboring villages. As an architectural work that has a completely open concept, it simultaneously shelters and shapes a large public space that can be used as a spot for numerous cultural events and manifestations.
While most people link theatre with such happenings, the architects working on the Yang-Liping Performing Arts Center had a unique idea in mind. Instead of creating an enclosed theatre space that excludes all the outdoor elements, this performing arts center welcomes them and incorporates them into the entire experience.
Without a clear distinction between indoors and outdoors, this architectural piece subverts the traditional idea of cultural buildings and equips its visitors with a unique experience.
Hungarian composers and musicians are known to be some of the most famous ones worldwide, yet Hungary has no place to commemorate some of its key accomplishments in music.
That’s exactly why there’s a rising need for a place like House of Hungarian Music, as it represents an ideal place where the general public can value the previous musical success and get insight into what’s currently happening in the music industry.
Designed by a Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, the House of Hungarian Music is located near the Városliget lake and the Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest and is surrounded by nature and greenery. With glass and other translucent materials playing an important role in this project, the House of Hungarian Music will create the ultimate harmony between the man-made and natural world.
However, the most peculiar part of this project is its roof. With almost 100 holes across the roof that will be punctuated with trees, there’s no better way of bringing park experience into the building. Trees protected with glass panels in combination with a large spiral staircase will showcase how a building can be contemporary, environmentally friendly, classic, and useful all at the same time.
Another project highly inspired by nature, environment, and its importance is the Green Solution House located in Rønne, Denmark. Designed as a hotel open for visitors from all around the world, the Green Solution House promotes eco-living, sustainability, and environmentally friendly solutions.
In addition to demonstrating green solutions, this hotel also promotes the continuous improvement of innovative technologies while enabling education and knowledge sharing. That being said, it’s certified by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB).
Although following a Scandinavian style and design that features simple, clean, minimalistic furniture pieces combined with warm tones and natural materials, at the Green Solution House, everything has a much bigger value.
For example, solar panels are used to equip the hotel with power. Plants, curtains, carpets, and other furniture pieces have active materials that clean the air. Windows across the entire building maximize the influx of light while the algae clean the water to drinking quality.
All items can be recycled, disassembled, or are biodegradable, which eliminates the concept of waste, including the waste from the kitchen, which is used in the vegetable garden owned by the hotel. Thanks to all of these features, Green Solution House is truly the best representative of how we can be more conscious about our environment and live more sustainably.
Badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Pier 54 had to be reconstructed. Nevertheless, Barry Diller, together with Hudson River Park Trust, had a slightly different idea about what they could do with the remaining wooden piles that once served as a foundation for the pier.
Coming up with an architectural project that would restore the old piles, stand on water, and bring something new to the New Yorkers wasn’t easy, but the invention of Little Island surely made this industrial and gloomy part of New York come to life.
A colorful, fun, and asymmetric park filled with the most mesmerizing plants used to create a breathtaking landscape makes every Little Island visitor happy and excited. Overall, the design resembles a leaf floating on the water, enriched with various details, colors, and accents that make it unique.
This architectural project will allow New Yorkers to enjoy multiple outdoor activities at the park and investigate countless plant species all year round.
Another architectural project that allows busy people to get away from the city rush and enjoy nature is Wormhole Library, located in Haikou, China. Designed by the Beijing company named MAD Architects, it’s a perfect place for all academics and readers looking for a peaceful spot brimming with aesthetics and inspiration.
As a building planned to act as a wormhole that transcends time and space, the now-finished Wormhole Library perfectly responds to the given idea. Located in Century Park and overlooking the South China Sea, this curved concrete construction blends the floors, walls, and ceilings into a single unit, creating a monolithic effect.
Following the trend of eliminating sharp angles and their overpowering effects, Wormhole Library features curved areas and furniture pieces, including curved sliding doors. Furthermore, circular holes ensure the indoor part of the building gets the optimal amount of air and light while easily maintaining comfortable temperatures.
Besides offering its users libraries, studying spots, and breathtaking views, the rooftop allows the users to attend open-air performances and visit the public pool area located at the top.
Created as a stormwater facility designed to control flow rates, regulate storm runoff, and remove pollutants, the Storm Water Quality Facility in Toronto features state-of-the-art technologies and architectural solutions to successfully treat urban runoff.
The facility is made out of four key elements with unique purposes – a stormwater reservoir, a shaft, a pump, and a stormwater treatment plant. These parts are connected by the paving feature that brings all the elements together into a single, unified facility.
Besides functional infrastructure, the design is aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly. Therefore, the Storm Water Quality Facility combines top-quality environmental performance, innovative urban development, and exceptional design to deliver some of the most impressive results.
Many cities in Mexico have been struggling with the same housing issue. Namely, the homes were built far away from each other, which led to numerous complications. Without the proximity to the city center and poor infrastructure, commuting to and from the city took a lot of time.
Because of that, the Las Americas Social Housing project in León, Mexico, represents a handy solution to motivate citizens to move closer to the city center at an attractive price, without sacrificing their privacy standards.
The architects took advantage of the inner-city part of León instead of building on the outskirts. That way, all future residents will be located near the economic center and close to all the required amenities. Privacy is the biggest advantage of traditional homes, so architects working on Las Americas Social Housing ensured that none of the 60 affordable condo units faced each other.
With access to a private yard and parking, future residents will truly be able to experience private and individual living at a much better location and price.
Floating Music Hub is exactly what it sounds like – an anchored architectural project intended to host music performances and events above water. Embellishing the African island of São Vicente in Cape Verde, the Floating Music Hub is a true innovation in the architectural industry.
Although not grand in size, this project is based on an innovative floating building solution known as Makoko Floating System. SImply put, it creates an easy way to build, assemble, and disassemble objects on the water by using prefabricated lightweight timber A-frame structures.
Since three buildings in total are a part of the entire Floating Music Hub project, this object located in the beautiful waters of Mindelo bay will have a performance hall, recording studio, and a bar, allowing the local community to maintain and share their love and appreciation for music in better conditions.
With 2021 slowly coming to an end, we can say it was a crucial year for architecture. Numerous projects related to housing, culture, manifestations, and environment were completed over this year, showing us how diverse architecture can be.
Furthermore, the innovation and creativity of architects ensure this industry reaches new heights every year. Although it’s challenging to single out the best projects of 2021, we’ve decided to make a list of the top ten ones that made the biggest impression on us.