World's Coolest Design Destinations

  • Herzog & de Meuron's showroom at VitraHaus

    Photo: Iwan Baan/Courtesy of Vitra

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    Herzog & de Meuron’s showroom at VitraHaus, in Weil am Rhein, Germany

    These days, innovative designs are everywhere—from showstopping skyscrapers and pedestrian bridges to industrial-chic hotel rooms.

    From January 2011 By

    Furniture manufacturer Vitra’s grassy headquarters at the meeting point of France, Germany, and Switzerland (just outside Basel) has been an architecture destination since its Frank Gehry–designed museum opened in 1989. There are also buildings by Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando, but the most remarkable sight may be the new showroom and store designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron. The architects have taken the archetypal pitched-roof house, elongated it, and stacked 12 of them up like fireplace logs. Inside, you can follow winding staircases through the dreamlike space and look for home furnishings.

  • Andels Hotel, Lodz, Poland

    Photo: Courtesy of Vienna Inernational Hotel Management AG

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    Andels Hotel, in Lodz, Poland

    A sister property of the ultramodern Andels Hotel in Prague, the Polish version is notable for its setting, an immense red-brick mill built by the 19th-century Jewish entrepreneur Izrael Poznanski. The hotel is just one component of a fantastic cultural and shopping district that somehow escaped destruction during World War II. An electrical plant from 1912 is now a disco. An ornate 1877 weaving mill houses restaurants and shops. And, in a former finishing mill, you’ll now find the Museum of the Factory.

  • Shweeb, Rotorua, New Zealand

    Photo: Courtesy of Shweeb at Agroventures

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    Shweeb, in Rotorua, New Zealand

    Australian inventor Geoffrey Barnett dreamed up his human-powered monorail while living in Tokyo, when he wished he could pedal above that city’s endless traffic jams. Since 2007, it’s been possible to test-drive Barnett’s fantasy on the world’s first Shweeb, at the Agroventures adventure theme park in Rotorua, New Zealand. Last year, his company, Shweeb Holdings Limited, received $1 million from Google to invest in research on a commuter-powered transit system in a city still to be determined.

  • Vanke Center, Shenzhen, China

    Photo: Steven Holl Architects

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    Vanke Center, in Shenzhen, China

    Steven Holl, of Steven Holl Architects, refers to this building as “the horizontal skyscraper.” Situated in Shenzhen, the building is about as long as the Empire State Building is tall (1,250 feet) and is mounted on massive, illuminated stilts, called “cores,” above a network of tropical gardens. Much of the Vanke Center will be used for offices, but a 200-plus-room hotel will open in fall 2011, offering an unusually tranquil retreat in this bustling city.

  • Arachon Winery, Horitschon, Austria

    Photo: Courtesy of Holzbauer and Partner

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    Arachon Winery, in Horitschon, Austria

    The “Wine Architecture” movement has dropped stunningly modern wineries in all of Austria’s grape-growing regions. However, Burgenland, about an hour southwest of Vienna, has the lion’s share. Destinations include the angular Esterhazy, near Eisenstadt, by Anton Mayerhofer; the sleek Leo Hillinger, in Jois, by Gerner Gerner Plus; and the Arachon, in Horitschon, with its dramatically angled stone archway, by Wilhelm Holzbauer and Dieter Irresberger. A full list, by region, is available from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (winesfromaustria.com).

  • Pedestrian Bridge in Covilha, Portugal

    Photo: Courtesy of FG+SG Fotografia de Arquitectura

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    Pedestrian Bridge in Covilhã, Portugal

    High-style pedestrian bridges are popping up all over: an epic example now spans the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York, and residents of Copenhagen are looking forward to next year’s completion of the Cirkelbroen. But the most impressive of all may be in Covilhã, Portugal, where Lisbon-based minimalist architect João Luis Carrilho da Graça’s walkway zigzags high above the Carpinteira river valley.

  • Souk Waqif, Doha, Qatar

    Photo: Courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture/Ziyad Shawkat

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    Souk Waqif, in Doha, Qatar

    Souk Waqif is the one great public space that remains in Doha, Qatar, a city that is reinventing itself at lightning speed. In the souk, locals congregate to dine, smoke shishas, meander through a maze of alleys, and shop. The 2008 restoration by designer Mohamed Al Abdullah replaced all structures that seemed at odds with tradition, revitalizing the historic spot.

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  • Herzog & de Meuron's showroom at VitraHaus

    Herzog & de Meuron’s showroom at VitraHaus, in Weil am Rhein, Germany

    Furniture manufacturer Vitra’s grassy headquarters at the meeting point of France, Germany, and Switzerland (just outside Basel) has been an architecture destination since its Frank Gehry–designed museum opened in 1989. There are also buildings by Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando, but the most remarkable sight may be the new showroom and store designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron. The architects have taken the archetypal pitched-roof house, elongated it, and stacked 12 of them up like fireplace logs. Inside, you can follow winding staircases through the dreamlike space and look for home furnishings.

  • Andels Hotel, Lodz, Poland

    Andels Hotel, in Lodz, Poland

    A sister property of the ultramodern Andels Hotel in Prague, the Polish version is notable for its setting, an immense red-brick mill built by the 19th-century Jewish entrepreneur Izrael Poznanski. The hotel is just one component of a fantastic cultural and shopping district that somehow escaped destruction during World War II. An electrical plant from 1912 is now a disco. An ornate 1877 weaving mill houses restaurants and shops. And, in a former finishing mill, you’ll now find the Museum of the Factory.

  • Shweeb, Rotorua, New Zealand

    Shweeb, in Rotorua, New Zealand

    Australian inventor Geoffrey Barnett dreamed up his human-powered monorail while living in Tokyo, when he wished he could pedal above that city’s endless traffic jams. Since 2007, it’s been possible to test-drive Barnett’s fantasy on the world’s first Shweeb, at the Agroventures adventure theme park in Rotorua, New Zealand. Last year, his company, Shweeb Holdings Limited, received $1 million from Google to invest in research on a commuter-powered transit system in a city still to be determined.

  • Vanke Center, Shenzhen, China

    Vanke Center, in Shenzhen, China

    Steven Holl, of Steven Holl Architects, refers to this building as “the horizontal skyscraper.” Situated in Shenzhen, the building is about as long as the Empire State Building is tall (1,250 feet) and is mounted on massive, illuminated stilts, called “cores,” above a network of tropical gardens. Much of the Vanke Center will be used for offices, but a 200-plus-room hotel will open in fall 2011, offering an unusually tranquil retreat in this bustling city.

  • Arachon Winery, Horitschon, Austria

    Arachon Winery, in Horitschon, Austria

    The “Wine Architecture” movement has dropped stunningly modern wineries in all of Austria’s grape-growing regions. However, Burgenland, about an hour southwest of Vienna, has the lion’s share. Destinations include the angular Esterhazy, near Eisenstadt, by Anton Mayerhofer; the sleek Leo Hillinger, in Jois, by Gerner Gerner Plus; and the Arachon, in Horitschon, with its dramatically angled stone archway, by Wilhelm Holzbauer and Dieter Irresberger. A full list, by region, is available from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (winesfromaustria.com).

  • Pedestrian Bridge in Covilha, Portugal

    Pedestrian Bridge in Covilhã, Portugal

    High-style pedestrian bridges are popping up all over: an epic example now spans the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York, and residents of Copenhagen are looking forward to next year’s completion of the Cirkelbroen. But the most impressive of all may be in Covilhã, Portugal, where Lisbon-based minimalist architect João Luis Carrilho da Graça’s walkway zigzags high above the Carpinteira river valley.

  • Souk Waqif, Doha, Qatar

    Souk Waqif, in Doha, Qatar

    Souk Waqif is the one great public space that remains in Doha, Qatar, a city that is reinventing itself at lightning speed. In the souk, locals congregate to dine, smoke shishas, meander through a maze of alleys, and shop. The 2008 restoration by designer Mohamed Al Abdullah replaced all structures that seemed at odds with tradition, revitalizing the historic spot.

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