Building’s a beautiful cover

By Timi Ayeni

We may well walk past many buildings without taking in much about their design, yet some are so beautifully textured even on the exterior that it’s hard not to engage with them, enjoy, or even admire them. Are these building’s exteriors for decoration or is the decoration purposeful? From elegant old buildings to new dynamic designs with decorative exteriors. Find out more in Building’s a beautiful cover

Over the centuries many buildings have been highly decorated on the inside whether they be homes or places of worship, the colours and textures help the space fulfil its use. Yet what about decoration outside? Why are some buildings covered in lovely designs and some plain? Here we explore some historic buildings and new ones with beautiful exteriors.

Taj Mahal 

A world-renowned mausoleum built in India in 1632 by Ustad Ahmad Lahori by the order of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan which is listed as “the jewel of Muslim Art” in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.

Made from red sandstone covered with white marble, the bottom of most of the walls, both inside and on the facades, are covered with bas-relief with floral forms. Sometimes these are existing plants, sometimes not. In the decorations, there are also incrustations of precious or semi-precious stones according to the technique known as pietra dura. These inlays are either floral or calligraphic. In this second case, written texts are verses of the Koran.


The Secession Building

The building was built in Vienna in 1897 by Joseph Maria Olbrich and was completed in 1898 as an architectural manifesto for the Vienna Secession, a group of rebel artists that seceded from the long-established fine art institution. 

The building features the Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt, one of the most widely recognized artworks of the Secession style (a branch of Art Nouveau, also known as Jugendstil.

The motto of the Secessionist movement is written above the entrance of the pavilion: “To every age its art, to every art its freedom” Below this is a sculpture of three gorgons representing painting, sculpture, and architecture.

The Old England Building, Brussels

The building was built in 1899 by Paul Saintenoy out of girded steel and glass with an art nouveau showpiece with a black facade with wrought iron and arched windows.

It contains the ground-breaking MIM music museum which is a celebration of music in all its forms with more than 2000 historic instruments inside. 

The building sums up the Nouveau style so prevalent at the time which looked to echo nature and natural forms within the arts

Sergio Otoya

Casa Batlló, Barcelona

Also a building with an exterior with Nouveau influence. The building was built in 1904 and was re-designed by Antoni Gauldí and is considered one of his masterpieces as a remodel of a previously built house and was refurbished several times after it has been built.

Much of the façade is decorated with colourful mosaics made of broken ceramic tiles. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality. 


The Louvre Abu Dhabi

This monumental and historic building was built by French architect Jean Nouvel in 2007 under the agreement of the French and UAE governments which was signed in 2017 and allows the building to use the term “Louvre” until 2037 as it has been described as “France’s largest cultural project abroad”. 

Created to look like a ‘seemingly floating dome structure’ its web-patterned dome allows the sun to filter through, here giving real purpose to the design. The overall effect is meant to represent “rays of sunlight passing through date palm fronds in an oasis.

Juliana Malta

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg 

The building was built in Hamburg in 2009 by French architect Alexander Gérard and his wife Jana Marko who commissioned the original design by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, who developed and promoted the project for three and a half years until the City of Hamburg decided to develop the project by itself. 

Set by the water the new glassy construction resembles a hoisted sail, water wave, iceberg or quartz crystal resting on top of an old brick warehouse.

National Museum of Qatar

It was built and completed in 2019 around the focal point of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani’s original palace which was his family home and seat of the government for 25 years

Jean Nouvel’s architectural design was inspired by the desert rose crystal. Hence the decorative nature of the building.

Jirayu Koontholjinda

Museum Of Pop (MoPop) 

This building was built between 1995-2000 and was designed by Frank Gehry. It was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 dedicated to contemporary popular culture.

Much of the building material is exposed in the building’s interior. Even before the building started the design was referred to as a smashed electric guitar.

” Gehry himself had in fact made the comparison: “We started collecting pictures of Stratocasters, bringing in guitar bodies, drawing on those shapes in developing our ideas.” 

Wikimedia Commons 

The BioMuseo

The Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry also designed this building in 1999 but it was delayed for two years until it opened in 2014 in Panama.

The building is inspired by the gorgeous country and is dedicated to the country’s biodiversity. Hence the colourful shapes and tones all over the building

It uses tilted tin roofs of different shapes stacked on each other. Additionally, the stunning building sits on the gorgeous nature reserve near the Panama Canal.

Amarilis Urriola Keiser

Giles Miller is a British designer, artist and creative whose work spans surface, architectural and sculptural projects. His self-titled and award-winning studio was set up in 2011 and produces projects in a breadth of scale for clients globally.

The characteristic Giles Miller Studio aesthetic comes from the fusion of technology with the handmade, primarily in the medium of sculptural surface design.

His first residential architectural project has a decorated exterior sitting 100m from the cliffs and sandy beaches of Broadstairs, Kent.

Image Rachel Ferriman

An artistic approach to architecture

The house breaks down barriers between the building’s internal spaces and the glade of natural planting and trees that surround it, through a unique sculptural facade which invites nature to grow up the outside of the house whilst also being visible from within it.

The Woven’s external surface is a beautifully sculptured artwork which brings architectural functionality to the building by encouraging jasmine, clematis and other plantings to grow up through the sculptural latticework and bring nature visibly into the building through the large glass exterior.

Image Rachel Ferriman

The facade makes the building look at home within nature, brings the beauty of those natural surroundings visually into the building for the inhabitants’ benefit, and also enables the extensive use of floor-to-ceiling glass by creating natural shading.  The sculptural concept itself was first inspired by the mathematical circularity of twisted rattan weave.

“The buildings we inhabit have a direct impact on our state of mind. Through their design, they are curators of light, sound and human interaction, and they can expose us to nature and organic materials to dramatically positive effect. We believe that this aspiration, in synchrony with our latest surface and sculptural experimentation in the studio, has spawned a wholly unique architectural typology.” 

Giles Miller

All buildings have artistry and designs with some purely for beautiful relief others are beautiful too but textures bring added benefits alongside the visual display.

If you enjoyed reading Building’s a beautiful cover, why not read Uncovering the Cover Here

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