It seems to be boomtime, and there’s some amazing new architecture going up all across Asia, but in the past few months (and in the next few to come) there are some real stunners that have topped off, opened their doors (or in one case reopened its doors) and shouldn’t be missed should you find yourself in one of these South East Asian cities.
#1 Mahanakhon Tower
Who: Ole Scheeren
What: Topping off at 314 metres, The Mahanakhon Tower is now the tallest building in Thailand, but you’d be forgiven to think that it isn’t quite finished. Conceptually realised as an excavation of the facade to reveal the inner life of the building, its recent opening has seen some pretty dazzling light shows, and the internet has since run amok with memes projecting the batman symbol high in the sky. More importantly however, the Ritz Carlton has moved into the upper floors, and a visit to their Rooftop Terrace Bar is a must for any high-altitude loving drinker. Those inclined to keep their feet (and Michelin stars) closer to the ground might want to hit up celebrity chef Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon on the 5th floor, while Vogue Magazine‘s first ever foray into the bar/lounge game keeps it editorially chic in the appropriately named Vogue Lounge on the sixth.
#2 Taichung Metropolitan Opera House
Where: Taichung, Taiwan
Who: Toyo Ito
What: Well, it’s been a long wait for this one. With construction beginning in 2009 and supposedly finishing in 2014. The Taichung Metropolitan Opera House opened its doors to fanfare and a crazy video-mapping projection only to be shut down immediately after for safety concerns for another two years. The good news is, it’s finally reopened! A structural marvel due to the lack of any columns, sculptural hourglass shapes carve out interior spaces providing circulation chambers, cavernous galleries, and most importantly incredible acoustics in the main theatre.
#3 The Envision Pavilion
Who: Sou Fujimoto
What: Following the success of the London Serpentine Pavilion in 2013, Sou Fujimoto has brought his wire-frame white cubes to Shanghai as part of the Shanghai Project – an ideas platform bringing together creatives from a wide variety of disciplines. Opened on September 4th, the 100 day long exhibition focuses on how we might deal with sustainability (in the broadest sense of the term) in the 22nd century. And, if you make it to the exhibition, be on the lookout for Douglas Coupland’s “We ran out of trees” neon buried within the scaffolding (as well as others throughout the exhibition) as an update to his 2011 project ‘Slogans for the 21st Century”.
Got you covered: Luxe Nomad Weekends: Shanghai
#4 MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum
Where: Chiang Mai
What: Officially opened this past July, the MAIIAM Museum of Contemporary Art houses the personal collection of Jean Michel Beurdeley and his late wife Patsri Bunnag. Over the years, the couple has amassed an astoundingly curated collection of contemporary Thai artists’ work, and lucky for us, want to share it with the public. With a specific design brief to the architects asking for a focus on the art rather than the architecture, allzone cheekily clad the entire building in shimmering mirror panels – effectively dissolving the structure into its natural environs. The result? A show-stopping building, a reflection of the beautiful Chiang Mai countryside, a serene museum to appreciate art, and a good dose of irony.
Who: Coop Himmelb(l)au
Where: Shenzhen, China
What: While not quite open yet, you can still go check out the stone and glass exterior of MOCAPE, which is actually two separate museums under one roof (the Museum Of Contemporary Art and the Planning Exhibition). As Shenzhen continues to attempt to shed its stereotype as only worth a visit for cheap massages and knock-off goods, MOCAPE adds to the growing list of Starchitects who have left their mark on the city. You’ll have to wait until the end of the year to get inside, but it should be worth it – if only to have a coffee in the reflective central ‘cloud’. Oh, and the whole thing was built by robots… so there’s that. Check it out in the video below: