Architecture is one of the true engineering feats of humanity, and each civilization has their own marvels. From organic materials to carving stone, some incredible structures have been built out of human ingenuity.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest pyramid in the world and an awe-inspiring yet confounding piece of architecture that we are still trying to grasp. Used as a burial chamber, an estimated 2.3 million stone blocks were used to construct this massive pyramid, and the builders are believed to have cut the stone blocks by hammering them with wooden wedges. It is also believed that due to the Egyptian knowledge of the alignment of stars, astrology played a great role in its construction.
Renowned for its wine, the Rioja region of Spain is littered with wineries. One of the most famous for pushing the boundaries of architecture is the Campo Viejo winery. Built on a breathtaking piece of land, the architect Ignacio Quemada Sáenz-Badillos sought not to “ruin” the natural beauty of the land, so instead of building the winery above ground, he built a 480,000 square-foot complex underground. Not only does this maintain the landscape, but it also aids the regulation of temperature for the winery—an important factor in preserving quality.
Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous churches in the world. A mashing of different architectural and engineering styles, the church is crafted with meticulous attention to organic detail. It is one of the most unique and uncompromising pieces of art we have in the world, as it was Antoni Gaudi’s mission to fuse the organic world with the spiritual world. Don’t always expect to get a good view of it if you visit Barcelona, however: it has been under construction for 131 years.
Representing the cultural and economic growth of Malaysia, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur are the tallest twin towers in the world and also contain the highest two-storey bridge in the world. They are designed with stainless steel and glass panels with properties to filter light and reduce noise, while the glass facades resemble motifs of Islamic art. In 1999, Felix Baumgartner set a world record for BASE jumping off the towers.
Living in a Double-Helix
By building the Agora Garden, architect Vincent Callebaut conveys that if the future will be built vertically, then we will need to implement more space for floral ecosystems in architecture. Twisting like a strand of DNA, the building is fitted with solar energy, rainwater harvesting apparatuses, food composts, and gardens to aid the symbiosis between humans and nature.
The Other Pyramid
In the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is the Temple of Kukulcan, a Mesoamerican step-pyramid that overlooks the center of the city. Most famous for its staircases, which form triangular shadows during the spring and autumn equinoxes and create an illusion of a large serpent crawling down the pyramid, Kukulcan is aligned with the astronomical solar zeniths and was also used for sacrifices.
The tallest bridge in the world is also considered one of the greatest feats of engineering. Built to ease traffic issues, the Millau Viaduct of southern France spans 2,460 meters across the gorge valley of the River Tarn and offers incredible views of the region. Sorry, Paris, the Millau Viaduct is taller than the Eiffel Tower; one mast is 343 meters or 1,125.5 feet tall.