The Best Architecture Of 2016 So Far

The Building of the Year Awards showcase the world's best towers, office buildings, opera houses, healthcare centers and more.

From a spiraling wedding chapel in Japan to a cattle station in Australia to a health center in Rwanda, architecture around the world is innovating some of the most unlikely of spaces. We're used to hearing about skyscrapers needling the heavens at ever-frightening heights, but sometimes, it's the designs looming closer to the horizon that are the real feats of imagination.

Arch Daily, a trusted purveyor of architecture news, recently announced the winners of its 2016 Building of Year Awards. The honorees demonstrate both the beauty and service design drums up across the globe, chosen by a jury comprised of 55,000 of Arch Daily's readers. They whittled down a total of 3,000 projects to just 14 winners, showcasing the best architecture of 2016 so far -- sometimes in small packages.

Check out the buildings of the year below. While these imaginings veer on the compact side, they emphasize how important sustainability and natural aesthetics are to their designers.

  • Japan
    <strong>Who:&nbsp;</strong>NAP Architects<strong><br>What:&nbsp;</strong><a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: NAP Architects
    Ribbon Chapel 
    Why: A wedding chapel in Onomichi, Hiroshima, that takes the form of a "free-standing building of unprecedented composition" meant to architecturally embody "the act of marriage in a pure form."
  • Australia
    <strong>Who:&nbsp;</strong>Luigi Rosselli<br><strong>What: </strong><a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Luigi Rosselli
    What: The Great Wall of WA
    Why: Described as "the longest rammed earth wall in Australia," the 750-foot long structure was built to provide short-term accommodations for a cattle station during mustering season. The various residences rely on thermal mass to keep them naturally cool in the subtropical climate.
  • Malaysia
    <strong>Who:&nbsp;</strong>Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect &amp; Associates<br><strong>What:&nbsp;</strong>Factory on the Earth<br
    Arch Daily
    Who: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates
    What: Factory on the Earth
    Why: The industrial space, fit with a green roof, is designed to reduce the amounts of carbon expelled and collect rainwater. "We wanted to transcend the factory typology," the architects explained in a statement, "by incorporating elements that would make the Islamic workers proud of the new working environment they would be facing."
  • China
    <strong>Who:&nbsp;</strong>MAD Architects<strong><br>What: <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: MAD Architects
    What: Harbin Opera House

    Why: The space, which consists of a grand theater capable of holding 1,600 patrons and a smaller theater for 400, was meant to blend in with Harbin's natural wetlands.
  • Portugal
    <strong>Who:&nbsp;</strong>FCC Arquitectura + Paulo Lobo<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: FCC Arquitectura + Paulo Lobo
    What: Cella Bar
    Why: It's an abandoned-space-turned-restaurant that's tailored to the beachside landscape.
  • Rwanda
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Sharon Davis Design<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Sharon Davis Design
    What: Partners In Health Dormitory
    Why: All the materials for this health center were sourced from within Rwanda, and 90 percent of the labor came from the village of Rwinkwavu -- women represented a minimum third of the staff. "This housing represents a major step forward for the local healthcare system in this remote area of Rwanda," the architects explained.
  • Italy
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Renzo Piano Building Workshop<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
    What: Intesa Sanpaolo Office Building
    Why: The design is the result of "advanced research" that takes into account the area's surrounding natural sources (water, air, sunlight) to limit energy consumption. For example, ground water is used to cool the offices and solar energy is captured by photovoltaic panels.
  • Portugal
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Elisabete de Oliveira Saldanha<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Elisabete de Oliveira Saldanha
    What: House in Guimarães
    Why: This is anyone's dream restoration: indoor and outdoor pool, spiral staircases, unique storage designs, library, green atrium, all situated on property with a grove of oak, chestnut and cork trees. Think total luxury.
  • Japan
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Herzog &amp; de Meuron<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Herzog & de Meuron
    What: Miu Miu Aoyama Store
    Why: From the architects: "The façade has neither logo nor pomp; it is a polished, mirror-smooth surface, as if one single giant brushstroke had swept smooth the ordinarily matte surface of the steel panelled façade."
  • Sweden
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Tham &amp; Videg&aring;rd Arkitekter<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Tham & Videgård Arkitekter
    What: School of Architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology
    Why: The design is based on a free campus layout that's meant to encourage movement -- not necessarily stationary activity.
  • Portugal
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;ateliermob + Colectivo Warehouse<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: ateliermob + Colectivo Warehouse
    What: Community Kitchen of Terras da Costa
    Why: The community center provides for a population of around 500 people -- mostly of African and Romani descent, including 100 children -- who inhabit an illegal neighborhood in Costa da Caparica, dubbed Terras da Costa.
  • France
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Herzog &amp; de Meuron<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Herzog & de Meuron
    What: Matmut Atlantique Stadium
    Why: It's a sports stadium in Bordeaux that was designed with the surrounding landscape in mind. The goal: to infuse the design with geometry and fluid, open lines.
  • Brazil
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Terra e Tuma Arquitetos<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Terra e Tuma Arquitetos
    What: Vila Matilde House
    Why: The architects rehabilitated an elderly woman's longtime home that was suffering from severe structural damage, adeptly taking advantage of the 15 by 80-foot space that includes a living room, lavatory, kitchen, laundry space, indoor courtyard and bedroom suite.
  • United Kingdom
    <strong>Who:</strong>&nbsp;Tim Greatrex<br><strong>What:</strong> <a href="
    Arch Daily
    Who: Tim Greatrex
    What: House of Vans London
    Why: According to architect, "it has been established as a place to participate in the cultural lineage of skateboarding ... combining skateboarding, art, film and music."

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