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Iconic Architecture Series: Asia

SEP 5, 2019 | By Aneesha Bhadri
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT Brutalist building: Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Bangladesh; The Dome of the Rock, Israel; Brutalist building: Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Bangladesh; Lotus Temple, India.
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Guangzhou Circle, China; Borobudur Temple, Indonesia; Borobudur Temple, Indonesia; Guangzhou Circle, China.
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT Lotus Temple, India; The Dome of the Rock, Israel; Interior of the Lotus Temple, India.

The Taj Mahal in India, Shōfuku-ji in Japan, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, The Great Wall of China, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, Azadi Tower in Iran, Burj Khalifa in Dubai… there is no end to the list of architectural masterpieces scattered across the continent of Asia. These unforgettable edifices stand out on the landscape of civilisation as some of the best creations of humanity. Here are some iconic structures that captivate minds and beguile souls across time.

Lotus Temple, India: The Lotus Temple, a Bahá’í House of Worship, welcomes one and all. This stunning structure, designed by California-based Iranian architect Fariborz Sahbais composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of three, to form the nine sides, with nine doors that lead to the central hall. With a capacity of 2500 people, this is the first temple in Delhi to use solar power and a portion of the construction budget was set aside for a greenhouse to study indigenous plants and flowers.

Guangzhou Circle, China: The world’s tallest circular building, with 33 storeys is located in Guangzhou, China. Designed by Italian architect Joseph di Pasquale, it resembles ideograms used in regional Chinese dialect. The ‘Bi’ disc is the country’s most enduring symbols, with a 5,000-year-old history. Set alongside the Zhujiang River, the reflection of the disc-shaped structure forms the figure ‘8’ in the water—another traditional symbol of good fortune.

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia: Nestled in the middle of the island of Java, the Borobudur Temple Compound is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. Located in the Kedu Valley, in the southern part of Central Java, it is considered to be the world’s largest Buddhist temple. Built in the 9th century, the temple’s design imbibes Javanese Buddhist architectural elements, combining the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship with the Buddhist concept of Nirvana. Javanese folk tales talk about Gunadharma as the architect of the complex but there is no clear record of it.

The Dome of the Rock, Israel: One of the oldest and most exalted works of Islamic architecture, the Dome of the Rock is located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. Its architecture and mosaics were inspired by neighbouring Byzantine structures, however, the facade underwent several changes in the Ottoman period as well as the modern period. The interior is resplendent with mosaic, faience, marble and the flowing script of Qur’anic inscriptions, much of which was added several centuries after its completion.

Brutalist building: Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Bangladesh: The house of the Parliament of Bangladesh, located in the capital of Dhaka is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world, spread over 200 acres. Designed by one of the most influential modern architects Louis Kahn, Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban portrays the riverine beauty of Bangladesh, with the central structure divided into three parts and partially surrounded by a glistening artificial lake. The roof has been designed to let in as much daylight as possible—playing on the American architect’s skill at making the most use of light in an aesthetic manner.