6 Structures You Didn’t Realize Were Designed by Major Architects
From a Zaha Hadid–designed ski jump to a Starbucks by Kengo Kuma, see how major architects have turned ordinary structures into something extraordinary
Many of the world’s top architecture firms have made their names with splashy high-profile commissions, such as major museums, towering office buildings, and Olympic stadiums that garner as much attention as the games themselves. But these top-tier global talents don’t only work on buzzy billion-dollar structures. They also lend their aesthetic to smaller projects that give the general public the opportunity to enjoy and interact with their designs. Designer shops and high-end restaurants often boast interiors by top designers and architects, but from time to time, the firms take on unexpected spaces, ones we see on a daily basis that wouldn’t normally garner such attention and care in terms of design, including duty-free shops, beach cafés, and even a gas station. From a ski jump by Zaha Hadid to a Starbucks by Kengo Kuma, see how major architects have turned everyday structures into spectacular works of art.
Meditation Space by Tadao Ando (Paris) :
The meditation space at the UNESCO building in Paris was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the organization’s constitution. Tadao Ando’s design is an intimate cylindrical space made of raw concrete with a floor and basin made from granite that was exposed to the bombing of Hiroshima and later decontaminated. Inside, a circular stream of light enters from the edges of the ceiling.
Gas Station by Nader Tehrani and Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles)
Iranian-American designer Nader Tehrani, working with Johnston Marklee, set out to design a green gas station in a busy area of Los Angeles. On the site of an existing gas station, Tehrani recycled original elements and incorporated new sustainable materials. The station is outfitted with solar panels, a green roof, and on-site water collection for irrigation. The striking steel exterior was prefabricated and is completely recyclable.
Ski Jump by Zaha Hadid (Bergisel Mountain in Innsbruck, Austria)
Zaha Hadid designed the ski jump at Bergisel Mountain in Innsbruck, Austria, to be accessible to all—not only competitive ski jumpers. The tower is topped with a café and terrace, which offer views of the skiers, the landscape, and Innsbruck. The project replaced an existing ski jump that was part of the Olympic Arena and opened in 2002.
Starbucks by Kengo Kuma (Hualien, Taiwan)
Kengo Kuma used recycled shipping containers in his design for a Starbucks in Hualien, Taiwan. The containers were stacked four stories high at 90-degree angles, creating terraces on some of the levels. The interior and exterior of the containers are a crisp white, making the space feel more contemporary and less industrial.
Heinemann Duty Free Shop by Snøhetta (Gardermoen, Norway)
Giant Toblerones and discount rum tend to be the focus of most duty-free shops, but Snøhetta’s design for the store in Oslo’s Gardermoen airport celebrates the natural beauty of Norway. Indoor gardens weave through the Heinemann Duty Free Shop, and oak display cases and shelving nod to the country’s glacial rock formations. The bright and airy space provides a tranquil stop in an otherwise busy airport.
E ast Beach Café by Thomas Heatherwick (Littlehampton, England)
Thomas Heatherwick, whose public art project Vessel recently debuted in New York’s Hudson Yards, is behind the design of the East Beach Café in Littlehampton, England. The architect avoided the typical seaside design tropes and instead took inspiration from texture and organic shapes of the beach for the café, which replaces an existing kiosk that sat on the narrow site. Constructed of patinated steel, the building is open to the sea on the front side and was designed to accommodate roller shutters that protect the building at night.