Designing with water in mind makes for a rather creative challenge! Take a look at these wonderful works and see how architects have skilfully merged the finer art of architecture with the flowing beauty of water.
1) Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, United States
One of the most iconic works by leading American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater is the name of a house built over a waterfall in southwest Pennsylvania. The house, which doesn’t even appear to stand on solid ground, captured everyone’s imagination when it made it to the cover of Time magazine in 1938 and today, it is a treasured National Historic Landmark.
2) Dai-Ichi Preschool in Kumamoto, Japan
Do you remember the song by Garbage that goes “I’m only happy when it rains?” Well, I’m pretty sure the kids that go to this pre-school in Kumamoto, Japan really feel this way. The courtyard of the school is designed to accumulate rain water so that after a heavy downpour, there is a gigantic, pool-like puddle just waiting for the kids to come out and play. On dry days, the courtyard can also function as a badminton or softball court and in the winter, it can even be converted to an ice skating rink. How’s that for a multi-purpose hall!
3) Floating City Apps
Designing floating architecture is the forte of Dutch architect Koen Olthuis. Inspired by his own country’s history in managing and living with water, Olthuis founded an architectural firm Waterstudio.nl that specialises in “architecture, urban planning and research related to living, working and recreation on water”. Their many projects include water villas in Amsterdam, “amphibious houses” in Colombia as well as luxury projects such as floating island resort in the Maldives. Olthuis is also lending his expertise to build floating structures that benefit people living in flood-ravaged shantytowns.
His latest project, “Floating City Apps” are floating developments based on a standard sea-freight container. The pilot will be deployed in Dhaka, Bangladesh this year and will be used as a classroom in the daytime and as an Internet cafe in the evening.
4) Sea Organ, Zadar, Croatia
Who doesn’t like listening to the soothing sound of the sea? This architecture marvel by Croatian architect Nikola Bašić takes it a step further by tapping on the power of waves to make beautiful music as waves lap at the coastline. The initially drab concrete jetty has been transformed with various sets of steps to create something similar to organ pipes, each capable of producing a different musical chord. The Sea Organ has even won several architectural accolades, including the 2006 European Prize for Urban Public Space.
5) Water Cube, Beijing, China
In Chinese culture and architecture, water is an important natural element as it creates a calming atmosphere and inspires happiness. Needless to say, when it came to designing a new facility of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, water became a key consideration and inspiration. The design of the National Aquatics Center (or “Water Cube”, as it is affectionately nicknamed) is a semi-transparent “cube”, with “bubbles” spread out all over its surface, and its shape is very similar to the structure of “H2O” molecule. During the Olympic Games, it was the main venue for swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo. It is now a multi-functional center for sports, recreation and fitness.