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Unilever Headquarters building on the Strandkai of the Elbe River in Hamburg, Germany. As part of the HafenCity development, the project emphasizes urban development and environmental sustainability. It boasts LED energy-efficient lighting, natural thermal cooling, and a large atrium that lets natural light into the heart of the building. Walkways criss-cross this space in a very constructionist way, with plenty of interactive opportunities and clashes of functionality.
Sheets of ipasol solar control glass on the exterior facades provide an extera protective barrier and a thermal space for heat gain or cooling. It also gives a dynamic texture to the blocky leaning forms that reminds one of the tipsy old-style German buildings. This gesture toward historic precedence and affinity for transparency can also be seen in the London Unilever building retrofit.
Interestingly, Unilever's expensive projects haven't proven too costly in the wake of the 2009 recession, as new building projects continue, and Unilever is called the best place to work. This wonderful example of architecture can at least be partly a cause, or result, of this effort.
Taj Mahal "crown of palaces" in Agra India, completed in 1648. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri of Persia supervised the design, with extensive personal involvement in the construction, and architects included Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan and Makramat Khan. The famous white mausoleum is just one part of the enormous 55.5 acre complex, dedicated to Jahan's third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. But the notion of romantic dedication is ironic as it was their son, Aurangzeb, who arrested the Mughal leader shortly after the mausoleum's completion and held him in captivity until his death. The British invaders abused the site until it was restored in 1908.
The lotus flower is borrowed from the Egyptians as a symbol of regeneration in the afterlife. Indeed, the entire layout of this Islamic complex follows Egyptian sensibilities. A lively Taj Ganji, the equivalent of a shopping mall today, contrasts the spiritual otherworldliness of the complex. It gives way to a grand gateway structure full of tombs of servants and predatory rooms for the procession inside. A gathering hall for attendants recalls the Egyptian hall of Maat. The 300m2 Charbagh garden is divided into quadrants and alludes to the holy garden of paradise, with its fountains of life and cypress trees of death.
The mausoleum comes next in the procession and is flanked by mosques. The site gradually slopes downward in steps toward the river, as the water suggests rebirth and cleansing in the afterlife. The tombs are actually located below ground, at water level. The mausoleum's domes are tipped with moon symbols, and it is the moon garden across the river that symbolizes the eternal paradise awaiting the family. This moon symbol is ingeniously mixed with the symbol for Shiva, the Hindu god of exaltation.
The base is 55m across with chamfered corners, and a large pishtaq on each side in an iwan is flanked by stacked pishtaqs. Atop a 7m drums stands the 35m dome, which has the same height as the structure's length. It is flanked by smaller domed chattris, with guldastas beyond that, and minarets at the final corners. The minarets tilt outward as an opitcal illusion of vertical alignment from far away, much as with Greek temples. The rational design for repetition and proportion incorporated advanced calculus and revolutionized the idea of symmetry. Each element establishes a realm of space in the grand procession and gives greater privacy to the more intimate and inward concentric spaces. The technical achievement of Ismail Afandi's dome is only surpassed by the foundation structure of deep wells packed with stone.
The calligraphy by Amanat Khan reveals that the tomb models the throne of God above the Garden of Paradise. An inscription on the southern facade on the main gate quotes the Q'uran: "Come back to your Lord... And enter you My Paradise!" The white marble of the edifice symbolizes purity and the light of the sun that revives the dead and inspires the living. Flowers, vines, and fruits carved into the stone emphasize growth in this heavenly garden. This element and the proportions of the building can make its language comparable to the Corinthian column, feminine and slender. The inlaid gems at the tombs further emphasize divine light, with the crypt's inscription: "O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious!"
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GDR 'Centrum' department store in Dresden, in East Germany. It was completed in 2009, with 52.000 m² of shopping space and 1.000 parking spaces. Several other projects seek to help transform the Altstadt area, which has never been much to look at since being destroyed in WW2 and the Communism that followed.
Great lattice patterns of Art Nouveau adorn the walls, as with the John Lewis store in Leicester. Black ardesia stone adorns the floor, and geometric patterns fill the exterior. Natural lighting carefully illuminates circulation and public spaces.
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Paris Opera. Ballu also built the Church of La Trinité near the Louvre.
Art fills the complex by leading artists of France, including Auguste Rodin, Raphaël Collin, Ernest-Eugène Hiolle, Henri ChapuJean-Paul Laurens, Puvis de Chavannes, Henri Gervex, Aimé Morot and Alfred Roll. It featured prominently in France's revolutions and still today is one of the city's most impressive buildings. Temporary exhibitions are often displayed in front of the building, such as an impressive Christmas display, and grand events are often held in the halls.
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Melbourne Recital Centre in the Southbank of Melbourne, Australia. Completed in 2009, the main hall has seating for 1000, and a smaller auditorium seats 132.
Accoustic designers Arup filled the interior with Hoop Pine plywood to reverberate bass notes. Weaving patterns on the wood evoke the natural patterns found in native trees. The room's proportions follow the classic "shoe-box" geometry of the ideal European performance center. The dynamic exterior with its clashing elements is similar to the nearby Federation Square. Grand entrances of glazing are positioned strategically with 250mm of concrete on steel springs to block noise from Southbank Boulevard.
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