As we all know, it is possible to do business just about anywhere. Thousands of us do it in our homes. A great many of us do it in frankly humdrum, uninspiring environments.
But the world is full of truly remarkable places where people come and go and conduct their worldly affairs. Here, for whatever it might be worth, is our take on the top ten of these:
10. Tianzi Hotel – Hebei, China
If you ever get to Hebei, China and you set out to find this astonishing building, you should be aware that Tianzi Hotel has several other names as well. The Emperor Hotel and the Son of Heaven Hotel are among the more prominent names you might try.
This ten-story structure, built in 2000/2001, is in fact a 41.6-metre high representation of traditional deities that are held to promote good fortune, prosperity and longevity.
The hotel is listed in the book of Guiness World Records as “the world’s biggest image building”.
9. National Architects Union Headquarters – Bucharest, Romania
This is one of those combination old-and-new structures that sometimes work and sometimes do not. We think this head-turner is inspiring.
The bottom part was a house, built in the second half of the 19th century for a politician. It became a meeting place for Bucharest’s intellectual elite of the era. It was destroyed in a fire in 1989 and remained in ruins for ten years.
Today it has been renovated by a team of top Romanian architects with an upper structure of glass and steel, nestled onto the old house. It is — though not without controversy — a local landmark, and a popular tourist attraction as well.
8. Peek & Cloppenburg – Cologne, Germany
Peek & Cloppenburg is one of the most famous fashion brands in Central Europe.
Designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, this structure is an office building, a store and also a public space from which to admire various surrounding landmarks. It is sustained by sixty-six wooden arches, creating huge spans that border a brilliant atrium which is fully transparent. It covers five floors, reaching 111 feet in height.
7. Robot Building – Bangkok Thailand
This bizarre-looking building serves as the headquarters of the United Overseas Bank in Bangkok. It has the appearance of a huge robot; the walls recede progressively, there are several antennas placed on top of it, and the structure has robot “eyes”.
The main architect of the building was Sumset Jumai. It was completed in 1986 and its total cost was US $10 million.
6. The Basket Building – Ohio, United States
The headquarters of Longaberger Basket Company is a replica of the company’s medium market basket, magnified 160 times. It is 192 feet long and 126 feet wide at the base and 208 feet long and 142 feet wide at the roof. It is rather delightful at night because the windows, supposedly the holes of the basket, light up.
Dave Longaberger, the company’s founder, was the one who envisioned a giant basket as the company headquarters. It has became an iconic symbol of the company as well as one of the most popular office buildings in the world. It is, after all, the largest basket on the planet!
5. Hotel Marques de Riscal – Elciego, Spain
The name, Marques de Riscal, is well-known to wine buffs for delicious red dinner wines and those straight-sided bottles wrapped in a mesh of fine wire.
This hotel is the design of Frank Gehry, one of the most successful American architects ever. It provides sweeping views of the vineyards below and huge, rolling stainless steel and titanium panels above. Each room of this spectacular hotel is different, making a stay here unique from the inside as well as the outside.
4. Infosys Building – Hinjewadi, Pune, India
This looks like a spacecraft landing, mainly because of its shape: an ellipsoid, tilted at about ten degrees. It encompasses five stories and it is made of a combination of steel, glass and aluminium.
The Infosys building was the first occupant of the development called “Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park”, which today includes the headquarters of various high-tech companies like Mindtree, Tata Technologies, Tech Machindra and CISCO.
The Infosys building, though, stands out from all the others. It was designed by Hafeez, an Indian architect widely known for his involvement in “green” architecture.
3. McLaren Technology Centre – Surrey, UK
This vast building sits on a fifty-hectare site, about three kilometres north of Woking town. It is a glass-walled, semi-circular structure with more than 57,000 sq meters of office space. It is the working place for all nine hundred McLaren employees.
Designed by Norman Foster and completed in 2003, the building is one of the most environmentally friendly office spaces in Britain. The water from the landscapes’ five lakes flows through a series of heat exchangers to cool the building.
2. ING Headquarters – Amsterdam, Netherlands
This startling aluminium and glass structure rests upon sixteen steel legs and stands ten stories high. It was designed to infuse a feeling of innovation, transparency, openness and eco-friendliness.
The 5,600 square-meter building includes a 250-seat auditorium, a restaurant, a library and six inner gardens. It one of the most energy-efficient buildings in The Netherlands. Because of its unusual shape it is known to locals to as “the shoe” or the “spaceship”.
1. Vodafone – Porto, Portugal
Tasked with exemplifying the company’s motto “Vodafone Life, Life in Motion”, architects José António Barbosa and Pedro Guimarães managed to create one of the most amazing buildings in Europe.
The Vodafone headquarters appears to be a structure in motion. The uneven angles and undefined spaces are a feature of the interior as well as the exterior.