Whether you’re a busy art director or an illustrator working from home, every creative needs some downtime. And there’s no better way to both relax and be inspired than jetting off somewhere you’ve never been before. Whenever we travel to far-flung places, we’re attracted to the famous buildings. Much like a photograph, architectural designs record details of specific moments in time.
But unlike an photograph, physical structures go on to have a life of their own, becoming a central and functional part of countless people’s lives for hundreds, if not thousands, of years after they were built. Here, we’ve picked some of the most famous building designs from around the world to inspire you.
01. The Dancing House, Prague
Nick-named The Dancing House, Prague’s Nationale-Nederlanden building was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić iand Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.
The architecture forms an unusual dancing shape thanks to 99 concrete panels, each a different shape and dimension. It’s proved so popular that the building now features on a gold 2,000 Czech koruna coin issued by the Czech National Bank.
02. Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin
The Milwaukee Art Museum is an architectural landmark, comprised of three buildings. The War Memorial Center (1957) was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen; the Kahler Building (1975) by David Kahler; and the Quadracci Pavilion (2001) was created by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Overlooking Lake Michigan, it’s linked directly to Wisconsin Avenue via a cable-stay footbridge. Pedestrians can cross Lincoln Memorial Drive on the bridge and continue into the pavilion, while drivers enter via an underground vaulted parking garage where pairs of canted concrete columns form a skeleton-like series of elements shaped like the letter ‘V’.
04. Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is a High Gothic five-aisled basilica, the construction of which began in 1248 and stopped in 1473, before the building was complete. Work did not resume until the 1800s, and it was finally finished in 1880. Later work follows the original medieval plan faithfully.
It is renowned as a Gothic masterpiece and houses many works of art as well as the tombs of 12 archbishops.
05. Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
A masterpiece of Islamic architecture, the Dome of the Rock is a 7th century building, located in Jerusalem. Built by Caliph Abd al-Malik between 687 and 691, the octagonal plan and the rotunda dome of wood are of Byzantine design. The Persian tiles on the exterior and the marble slabs that decorate the interior were added by Suleiman I in 1561.
The oldest extant Islamic monument, the Dome of the Rock has served as a model for architecture and other artistic endeavors for over a millennium.
06. La Pedrera, Barcelona
Nested among the urban streets of Barcelona are some unusual and beautiful buildings by infamous architect Antoni Gaudi. His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings the world have ever seen. And La Pedrera is no exception.
One of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture, this is more sculpture than building. The façade is a varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone that, along with its forged iron balconies, explores the irregularities of the natural world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognised this building as World Heritage in 1984.
07. One World Trade Center, New York
The latest addition to New York’s skyline, the One World Trade Center, is the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. Construction began in April 2006 and the final component of the building’s spire installed five years later in 2013, making it the fourth tallest skyscraper in the world.
The One World Trade Center’s design is no coincidence, standing at a symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541m) in a direct nod to the year of the US Declaration of Independence.
Designed by David M Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the 104-story glass tower raises from a cube base before transforming from the 20th floor into eight sleek isoceles triangles. Stood adjacent to the city’s beautiful 9/11 memorial, the One World Trade Center is a shining beacon for the city.
08. St Paul’s Cathedral, London
London’s most iconic building, St Paul’s Cathedral, was designed by English architect Sir Christopher Wren. Sitting at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, its famous dome is one of the world’s largest, measuring nearly 112 metres high.
The original church on the site was founded in the year 604AD. Work on the present English Baroque church began in the 17th Century by Christopher Wren as part of a major rebuilding program after the Great Fire of London.
Wren started working on St Paul’s in 1668, his designs for the cathedral taking a decade to complete and the actual construction taking a further 40 years. St Paul’s has played an integral part of London life ever since – as a domineering element in the city’s skyline, as a centre for tourism and religious worship, and most recently as a focal point for anticapitalist protests.
09. Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Standing at 170 metres above ground, the Petronas Towers are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The buildings, which held the titled of tallest in the world between 1998-2004, are an iconic landmark of the capital city.
The distinctive postmodern style was created by architects Cesar Pelli and Achmad Murdijat, engineer Deejay Cerico and designer Dominic Saibo under the consultancy of JC Guinto.
10. The White House, Washington
Irish architect James Hoban was the man behind the design of the White House. In 1792 Hoban submitted a plan for the presidential mansion and subsequently got the commission to build the White House. Constructed began in 1793 through to completion in 1801. The mansion, which has been home to every US leader since the country’s second president John Adams, is made from white-painted Aquia sandstone.