City Spaces

THE GATEWAY ARCH, ST LOUIS

Astounding 630-feet high, the magnificent Gateway Arch remains the tallest man-made national monument in the United States. Its unique shape and stainless-steel facade represent the history etched in the city of St. Louis. An enclosed tram inside the Arch takes you to the top, where one gets a breathtaking view of modern St. Louis – up to 30 miles in each direction on a clear day. Along with the surrounding Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Gateway Arch opens a world of history how St. Louis served as the Gateway to the West for early settlers.

SAGRADA FAMÍLIA, BARCELONA

The Basílica Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (English: Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) is largely an unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926). Gaudí’s work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it as a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral, which is seat of a bishop.
Also, six other Gaudí buildings in Barcelona, part of la Sagrada Família, are declared UNESCO World Heritage Site testifying “to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to architecture and building technology which influenced many modern constructions in 20th century.

30 ST MARY AXE, LONDON

30 St Mary Axe is a commercial skyscraper in London’s primary financial district. It was once the headquarters of the Swiss Reinsurance Company. An unmistakable landmark on the London skyline, it is also the first skyscraper built with British capital ecological criteria. The tower is 180m (591ft) high and has 41 floors.
Built in 2004 it was originally known as the Swiss Re Building and later renamed to its street address 30 St. Mary Axe. Swiss Re sold the building in 2006 for £600m and later its buyers – a fund managed by Germany’s IVG Immobilien and UK private equity group Evans Randall – sold to a Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra who bought if for over £700m. Even before its construction was completed, the Londoners had dubbed it as ‘Gherkin’ for its distinctive shape.
The cigar-shaped structure has a steel frame with circular floor plans and a glass facade with diamond-shaped panels. The swirling striped pattern visible on the exterior is the result of the building’s energy-saving system which allows the air to flow up through spiraling wells. On each floor, a series of interstices with six pipes made from natural ventilation system provides cooling in summer and heating in winter. These also allow easier entry of light resulting in lower lighting costs. Systematic control of internal microclimate and energy saving solutions has led to a 50% reduction in energy consumption.
The top of the tower, where visitors find an open hall covered by a glass conical dome, is even more spectacular. From here one can have spectacular view of the city. However, the building is not open to public.
Its unique, bold and energy efficient design won many awards including the Stirling Prize, the London Region Award, and the Emporis Skyscraper Award.

Casa Batlló, Barcelona

Casa Batlló is a renowned building located in the centre of Barcelona and is one of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces. A remodel of a previously built house, it was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudí and has been refurbished several times. Gaudí’s assistants also contributed to the renovation project. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality.
Like everything Gaudí designed, it is only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. There are few straight lines, and much of the façade is decorated with a colourful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia, Gaudí’s home), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.

Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France

Notre Dame du Haut is a Roman Catholic chapel in Ronchamp, France. Built in 1954, it is one of the finest examples of the architecture of Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier and one of the most important examples of 20th-century religious architecture. The chapel is a working religious building and is under the guardianship of the private foundation Association de l’Œuvre de Notre-Dame du Haut. It attracts 80,000 visitors each year.

The structure is made mostly of concrete and is comparatively small, enclosed by thick walls, with the upturned roof supported on columns embedded within the walls, like a sail billowing in the windy currents on the hill top. In the interior, the spaces left between the walls and roof and filled with clerestory windows, as well as the asymmetric light from the wall openings, serve to further reinforce the sacred nature of the space. The lighting in the interior is soft and indirect, from the clerestory windows and reflecting off the whitewashed walls of the chapels with projecting towers.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral, High Cathedral of Saint Peter, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day and currently the tallest twin-spired church at 157 m height.

The design of Cologne Cathedral was based quite closely on that of Amiens Cathedral in terms of ground plan, style and the width to height proportion of the central nave. The plan is in the shape of a Latin Cross, as is usual with Gothic cathedrals. It has two aisles on either side, which help to support one of the very highest Gothic vaults in the world, being nearly as tall as that of the Beauvais Cathedral, much of which collapsed. Externally the outward thrust of the vault is taken up by flying buttresses in the French manner. The eastern end has a single ambulatory, the second aisle resolving into a chevet of seven radiating chapels.