5 design destinations you must see before you die

February 28th, 2013

We’ve said it before, we love and appreciate innovative design and architecture. We’re also big on buildings that are connected to their surrounding environment. So we’ve picked 5 design destinations that do just that. You seriously have to check these places out before you die!

Cathedral of the Northern Lights

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In 2001, when the architecture competition for the Cathedral of the Northern Lights was arranged, the town of Alta in Norway did not just want a new church, they wanted to create an architectural landmark for the region. Well, they got what they wished for. This is definitely not your typical church. With its Titanium clad facade, the church reflects the northern lights during the long periods of Arctic winter darkness and emphasizes the experience of the phenomenon. Oh and another cool thing, is that daylight enters the building through slender oblong windows which are arranged to look like the black keys on a church organ.

Hallgrímskirkja Church

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The Hallgrimskirkja church  (pronounced hatlkrims) is another building that was inspired by it’s natural surroundings. State Architect Guðjón Samúelsson, designed it to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape. The church took…..wait for  it….38 years to build! Construction work started in 1945 and only ended in 1986. By the looks of things, it was well worth the wait.

The Aurland Lookout

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The gravity defying Aurland Lookout is a beautiful example of Nordic architecture that blends into the scenic Aurlandsfjellet region of Norway. According to the architects, “Nature first and architecture second was the guiding principal when we sat down to design it”. It’s a job well done if you ask us. The minimalist structure really complements the surrounding environment.

The Metropol Parasol

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At first glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the Metropol Parasol was inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees in nearby Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. But believe us, it was. The structure consists of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms, and beneath the timber structure, are a range of public amenities. These include an archaeological museum, a farmers market, an elevated plaza, and multiple bars and restaurants underneath and inside the parasols, as well as a panorama terrace on the upper level of the parasols.

Hôtel de Glace

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And right here in our very own Canada, we have a hotel made entirely of ice! Located only 10 minutes from downtown Quebec City, the Hotel de Glace is the first ice hotel in North America and the temperature varies between -3°C and -5°C, no matter what the outside temperature is. The hotel takes about a month and a half to build and is made of 15,000 tons of snow and 500,000 tons of ice made using a special mixture of snow to adjust the humidity. Amenities include a nightclub, movie theater, indoor heated washrooms, outdoor hot tubs and even a fireplace next to your bedside. Forget Mexico and Vegas, the Hotel de Glace is where you should book your next vacation!

If you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far, then check out our other design and architecture posts.