Man’s ability to think and create structures thousands of times our own size is one of the greatest measures of our civilisation. From the bridges we drive across, to the buildings we work in, to the stadiums we cheer in, architects occupy a central position in day-to-day life.
Over the years, Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron have designed some of the world’s most captivating architectural masterpieces — from Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena to Beijing’s Bird’s Nest.
The dounding duo, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, led parallel lives, both studying at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich before forming the company in 1978. In 2001, the pair won the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious prize for architecture in the world.
One Pritzker jurist commented, “One is hard put to think of any architects in history that have addressed the integument of architecture with greater imagination and virtuosity.”
The firm is currently in the middle of a number of large-scale projects, including the second tallest skyscraper in Switzerland and the future stadium for Portsmouth Football Club.
Herzog & de Meuron are among the most highly respected architects in the world. Below are some of their most awe-inspiring creations, ordered by date of completion:
Dominus Winery, California, USA (1999) -- Nicknamed 'the stealth winery' by locals, the structure is formed of thousands of local, basaltic rocks held in steel baskets, which makes it blend into the surrounding landscape.
Tate Modern, London, England (2000) -- Herzog & de Meuron's most famous piece of architecture, the conversion of the Bankside Power Station, cost $A232 million and earned the architects a 2008 documentary about their work.
Prada Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan (2003) -- According to the architects' website, 'Depending on where the viewer is standing, the body of the building will look more like a crystal.'
M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, California, USA (2005) -- To protect against local seismic activity, the building 'can move up to three feet due to a unique system of ball-bearing sliding plates.'
Walker Art Center, Minnesota, USA (2005) -- The $A93 million Herzog & de Meuron expansion nearly doubled the size of the art center.
Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany (2005) -- The goliath 75,000-seat stadium utilises 22,000 tonnes of steel. The inflatable, luminous façade is lit with the home team's colours and, sometimes, the rainbow.
Beijing National Stadium, China (2008) -- The $A599 million stadium was the focal point for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Now, however, it's in a state of relative disuse -- a shopping mall and hotel are planned to occupy the space.
CaixaForum Madrid, Spain (2008) -- Coined by the architects as an 'urban magnet,' the bulk of the building's mass is suspended above the ground, defying gravity.
VitraHaus, Weil am Rhein, Germany (2009) -- This somewhat chaotic structure resides in Vitra Campus, something of an architectural hall of honour where works from the likes of Frank Ghery and Zaha Hadid are also on display.
1111 Lincoln Road parking garage, Florida, USA (2010) -- The 300-space car park was designed to abolish the negative stigma attached to car park architecture. The result cost $A3.47 million. One resident refuses to park anywhere else, saying: 'It's a work of art more than a garage. Everywhere you look, there's a view.'
Pérez Art Museum, Florida, USA (2013) -- As soon as Herzog & de Meuron's new building was complete, the museum saw visitors skyrocket to 150,000 within the first four months of opening, compared to its usual 60,000 annual visitors.
Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford, England (2015) -- The building was constructed despite great disdain from locals, one of whom called it 'a concrete marshmallow.'
BBVA Headquarters, Madrid, Spain (2015) -- The banking building is interspersed with irrigated gardens and holds 6,000 workers.
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