2009-12-25

The top 10 buildings of the decade

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Millennium Dome, London, 2000.Designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership and engineers Buro Happold, this was a £45m politically-driven folly. Often compared to a giant jellyfish washed up on the Greenwich peninsula, today this huge tent has been reborn as the successful O2. With a diameter of 365m and topping 100m, its titanic scale remains impressive.

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Blur, Expo 02, Yverdon-les-Bains, 2002.This sensational pavilion, which was designed by New York architects Diller + Scofidio, was the star of Switzerland’s Expo 02. A cat's cradle of tensile steel, 20m high and 100m long, it brooded at the end of a steel-and-glass jetty over Lake Neuchatel. Inside, some 30,000 water jets created clouds through which mesmerised (and damp) visitors could walk, again and again.

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Serpentine Pavilion, London, 2002.This lyrical pavilion, designed by architect Toyo Ito and engineer Cecil Balmond, was a suggestion of an architecture of the future, in which boundaries between walls, floor, ceiling, interior and exterior might dissolve. In a decade of bombast, here was profundity and simplicity.

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30 St Mary Axe, London, 2003.Norman Foster's Gherkin was admired and scorned. Most were awed by his office tower, although some thought it symbolised the cocksure ambition of the City. Its pleasures are chiefly for those who work here: the skygardens are impressive, and the restaurant is one of the world’s most breathtaking new rooms.

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European Southern Observatory Hotel, Cerro Paranal, Chile, 2003.This "hotel" for astronomers working in the Atacama desert is a perfect fusion of architecture and landscape, from the Munich practice Auer and Weber and engineers Mayr and Ludescher. Coolly geometric red concrete walls form a quasi-monastic courtyard, behind which rooms are stacked in orderly rows. Ostentation is left to the heavens.

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Beijing National Stadium, Beijing, 2008.This eye-catching 80,000-seat stadium, designed by the Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron with the Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, was the architectural highlight of the 2008 Olympics. It consists of two buildings, one inside the other: a red concrete bowl for seating surrounded by the steel “bird’s nest? Since the Olympics, this charismatic building has been largely redundant.

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St Pancras station, London, 2007.Magnificent revival of the Victorian Gothic railway terminus, now one of the world’s finest stations. Alastair Lansley led his team over a decade, transforming this fusion of 19th-century architecture and mind-searing engineering into a place for 21st-century trains. The hotel and penthouse flats high in the rafters have yet to be completed.

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Le Viaduc de Millau, Aveyron, 2004.Awe-inspiring bridge carrying the A75 autoroute across the Tarn Valley in southern France. Designed by the engineer Michel Virlogeux and Norman Foster, the Viaduc de Millau is best seen from the tops of the valley sides, especially when its Eiffel Tower-high pylons spear the summer clouds.

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Neues Museum, Berlin, 2009.After 10 years of painstaking reconstruction, this magnificent 19th-century cultural pantechnicon, closed in 1939, was reopened to popular and critical acclaim. The complex and intelligent redesign was by the British architect, David Chipperfield, who has allowed the old building to breathe while fitting it out with all the new technology it needs.

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Burj Dubai.Dubai's economy totters as the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest structure, prepares to open. At 818 metres, it is the equivalent of the Empire State Building with the Chrysler Building on top. Designed by Adrian Smith and Bill Baker of Chicago-based SOM, the Burj has 160 storeys of hotel rooms, Armani-styled apartments and sky-high offices.


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