Grand designs; take a look at the extraordinary buildings taking the architectural world by storm in 2015

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Harriet Hall
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The eighth annual World Architectural Festival has confirmed its 2015 shortlist, bringing to our attention a host of sublime and innovative new designs across the globe. 

The shortlist consists of 338 projects from entries across 46 countries, which range from small homes to large commercial developments and even landscape projects.

All entrants are in the running to win their individual categories, as well as the dream title of World Building of the Year 2015.

We've hand-picked a few of our favourite entrants...

1) Cardedeu Chapel at Lago de Coalepeque, El Salvador by EMC Arquitectura

CATEGORY - Religion: Completed Buildings 

This brutalist-inspired rhomboid sits perched in the breathtaking mountains surrounding Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador. The building is a chapel, restaurant and hotel. The chapel was constructed in harsh concrete to contrast with the surrounding lake and mountains. Inside, detail is scant save for the altar, which appears to float on a pool of water –  bringing focus back to the lake outside. 

2) Grotto Sauna, Lake Huron, Canada, by PARTISANS

CATEGORY - Small Projects

This private sauna is nestled at the edge of an island in Georgian Bay, Ontario, which is said to be one of the most beautiful places in the world to view the sunset. With its simple burnt-timber exterior, it fits aesthetically into its surroundings and was inspired by Italian grottoes (hidden water-storing caves concealed within rock formations). The interior is built from curved Cedar panelling, created using cutting-edge fabrication technology. The asymmetrical Hobbit-like portholes allow the lake to be viewed from all angles of the traditionally stepped-seating. 

3) Learning Hub, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, by Heatherwick Studio

CATEGORY - Higher education and research: Completed Buildings

Designed as part of Nanyang Technological University’s campus re-development plan, the Learning Hub in Singapore is a “multi-use teaching building” that encourages interaction at all levels. The building has no corridors or conventional square rooms but weaves between work and recreational spaces, encouraging an educational flow of people and ideas. The curved rooms have no clear front or back and enable the 33,000 students to see the different lessons and groups that are happening in the building. 

4) Ribbon Chapel for Weddings, Seto Inland Sea, Japan, by Hiroshi Nakamura and NAP

CATEGORY - Religion: Completed Buildings

Located on the grounds of a resort hotel with a view of the Inland Sea of Japan, the Ribbon Wedding Chapel is formed of two staircases that begin at opposite sides of the building and entwine in a double spiral that meets at the top. The design is a romantic metaphor for the path taken by two partners walking toward their matrimonial union. The chapel is concealed by 10m trees, that provide privacy during ceremonies, and is built up to above tree-height with a viewing platform so the congregation can still enjoy the spectacular ocean view. 

5) The Interlace, Singapore, by OMA/Buro Ole Scheeren

CATEGORY - Housing: Completed Buildings

The 31 blocks of these flats are stacked horizontally atop one another like a giant game of Jenga, each 6 stories high and 70m long, focused around 8 open courtyards. The design rejects the high-rise lifestyle and strives for ‘the notion of community life within a contemporary village’. The Interlace does just what it says on the tin- interlaces buildings and lives. Designed to create a more sociable approach to living in modern apartment blocks, the building creates a ‘network’ of living areas alongside private and communal gardens and spaces, that fit within the natural, humid surroundings of the city. 

6) Yanweichou wetlands park that accommodates monsoon flooding, Jinhua City, by Turenscape

CATEGORY - Urban Projects: Landscape

The Yanweichou Wetlands Park sits at the junction of three 100 metre-wide rivers in Jinhua City in Eastern China. The 64 acre natural wetland became home to a concert hall and open green spaces but they were largely under used due to the inaccessibility of the location. The Park was built to embrace flooding; working with the water and the natural ecosystem to encourage visitors. A cut-and-fill technique and a ‘waterresilient’ terraced river embankment that is planted with flood-friendly vegetation are integrated with water resistant walkways and pavilions that adapt during flood seasons. 

7) Tower House, a family home in Victoria, Australia by Andrew Maynard Architects

CATEGORY – House: Completed Buildings

Built as an extension to an existing family home, Tower House is created from a series of small structures that complement the weatherboard exterior of the original building. The structure uses an innovative combination of materials: fiberglass grating, netting and timber shingles, alongside polished concrete. The family had requested a building that would allow “for community, art and nature to come together”, and the result is an inventive, modern space with child-friendly interior spaces and a village-like exterior. 

8) Hiroshi Senjyu Museum café and shop, Karuizawa, Japan, by Hideo Yasui and AIT

CATEGORY - Shopping: Completed Buildings

Built as a café and shop for the museum dedicated to Japanese artist Hiroshi Senju’s work, this building was inspired by the sharp and curved lines of origami. The pointed structures echo the surrounding mountains and the curved forms provide a smooth accompaniment to the natural environment.

9) Fulton Center transport hub, New York, USA, by Grimshaw

CATEGORY - Transport: Completed Buildings

The Fulton Center was designed to spark the re-development of Lower Manhattan. The hub connects eight subway lines, and sees 300,000 daily passengers. Behind the shiny glass façade is a large 120 feet high atrium, around which the building is centred, whose roof is a conical dome that allows in steams of natural light to the underground passageways. The entrances seamlessly connect with the streets, allowing easy and efficient access to all train lines via the bright walkways. Giant steel columns reflect the cast-iron of the historic neighbourhood’s buildings. 

10) Gammel Hellerup High school, Denmark, by Bjarke Ingels Group

CATEGORY - Schools: Completed Buildings

Killing two birds with one stone, this project presents a new multipurpose hall and a classroom building with a sports field on top, for Denmark’s Gammel Hellerup High School. The hall is built 16 feet underneath the school’s courtyard, thus having minimal environmental impact. The classroom building, to be used both as a gymnasium and for social events, has a curved wooden roof was designed to mirror the arc of a handball in flight. 

You can view the shortlisted projects at WAF London, which will be held at the University of Westminster from the 24-27 June. For more information and for the talks programme click here.

Images: World Architectural Festival 

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Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall is a former Stylist contributor.