For Architectural Digest, by Eric Allen.
From Shakespeare to Georgia O’Keeffe, flowers have inspired creative minds for centuries, and in architecture, it’s no different. The natural balance of a floral bloom lends itself perfectly to structural composition, as seen in some of the most well recognized works of modern architecture around the world. Lotus flowers inspired the blossoming shape of Moshe Safdie’s ArtScience Museum in Singapore, a sculpture at Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum in Rome, and of course, the Lotus Temple in India. Shanghai’s Qizhong Tennis Center finds inspiration in the petals of the magnolia, while SOM’s Burj Khalifa features a Y-shaped design in homage to a spider lily. Discover AD’s selection of some of the world’s best floral-inspired structures.
Designed to look like it's namesake flower, the Lotus Temple in Delhi, India is a Bahá'í House of Worship open for people of every faith. The petal-shaped walls of the structure are clad in white marble from Greece.
The National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, better known as MAXXI, is Zaha Hadid's Roman masterpiece and was home to this inflatable sculpture, Golden Lotus by Choi Jeong-hwa.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
British artist Kevin Dean designed these intricate floral mosaics at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. In addition to the courtyard, his mosaics also cover some of the interior walls and floors.
Marina Bay Sands
Moshe Safdie found inspiration in a lotus flower for the design of the ArtScience Museum at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore. Each petal features a skylight at the tip to illuminate the interior with natural light.
The three-pronged footprint of this tower in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, is an abstraction of the spider lily, or Hymenocallis. Designed by the architects at SOM, this building is currently the tallest skyscraper in the world.
Hangzhou Sports Center
Designed for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center is designed by NBBJ for a lotus-like facade wrapped in white petals.
Prentice Women's Hospital
The Prentice Women's Hospital, now demolished but formerly a part of Northwestern University's campus in downtown Chicago, was designed with a cloverleaf layout by architect Bertrand Goldberg. Completed in 1975, the Brutalist structure was one of the first whose plans were made using computers.
Quizhong Tennis Center
The magnolia-inspired roof of the Qizhong Tennis Center in Shanghai features dynamic roof "petals" that can open and close depending on the weather.
Located in Macau, the Grand Lisboa hotel and casino features a postmodern design that bears resemblance to a blossoming lotus.
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