"The world is not a rectilinear world, it is a curvilinear world. The heavenly bodies go in a curve because that is the
natural way..."

-- George Bernard Shaw

"I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein."

-- Oscar Niemeyer

Friday, 30 May 2014

17. My 8 Favorite Buildings that Look Like Flying Saucers

Architects, like the rest of us, are fascinated by flying saucers. Unlike the rest of us, they can actually do something about it. Here are some of my favourite buildings that look like flying saucers.

1. Niteroi Museum of Contemporary Art

As with many of my lists, right at the top of this one is the late, great Oscar Niemeyer. The Brazilian architect once wrote, "It is not the right angle that attracts me, nor the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. What attracts me is the free and sensual curve..." Nowhere is this principle better put to use than in Niemeyer's out-of-this world Niteroi Museum of Contemporary Art:

2. Mercedes-Benz Arena

Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Part 2? Someone call Steven Spielberg and let him know that his mother ship has been taken. Once called the Shanghai World Expo Cultural Centre, it now goes by the name Mercedes-Benz Arena. You just know that somewhere Richard Dreyfuss is making a model of this out of mashed potatoes.


3. Biblioteca Sandro Penna

And you thought libraries all looked like boxes. This one, Biblioteca Sandro Penna in Perugia, Italy seems to be getting ready to take off:


4. Abu Dhabi Louvre

Put up $747-million, and you too can have a UFO-shaped Louvre Museum in your backyard (construction costs and batteries not included). WHAT, you say, you'd have to be Abu Dhabi to afford this? Well, actually you would.

The Abu Dhabi Louvre, designed by Jean Nouvel, will open in 2015 as part of the United Arab Emirates' massive cultural project, Saadiyat Island. The dome alone weighs 7,000 tonnes but is supported at only four points. Devilishly clever those aliens!

5. Lookout Tower of Olympic Park

More like a series of flying-saucer landing pads than actual UFOs, Bejing's Lookout Tower of Olympic Park keeps a watchful eye on the city's Bird's Nest Stadium:

6. Hotel Hesperia, Barcelona

Some flying saucers don't even need landing pads. They just set themselves down wherever they like - like this one on top of Richard Rogers' Hotel Hesperia in Barcelona. Fortunately, it fits in well with the design.


7. The Evoluon

The Evoluon, in Eindhoven (The Netherlands), even sounds like a futuristic transport vehicle. But it's not. It started out in the 1970s and 80s as a museum dedicated to Science and Technology. It was closed in 1989, but today flies on as an international conference centre:

8. Toronto City Hall

There is a good reason, of course, why I particularly like buildings that resemble flying saucers. I was born and lived most of my life in a city with a disc-shaped building right in its centre.

In the 1950s, Toronto held a global competition for an architect to design its new city hall. The winner, chosen in 1958, was Finnish architect Viljo Revell. His design featured two curved towers with a UFO-shaped saucer in between:

The saucer is actually the chamber where Toronto's City Council meets. It's a bit odd that a backward body should meet in such a futuristic-looking structure. But it's by no means the craziest thing at Toronto City Hall. That honour - by a longshot - goes to Mayor Rob Ford. Coming soon to a rehab clinic near you.