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The 10 Best Works of Architecture in 2010

As 2010 comes to a close, TheCoolist looks back on the greatest works of architecture of the past year.  From stunning works of sculptural architecture to glass-walled homes, these 10 buildings represent some of the year’s most innovative designs.  While there are a lot more designs that deserve celebration, these 10 were the favorites of TheCoolist– the best of 2010.

Vodaphone Headquarters by Barbosa Guimarães

Shortly before the calendar rolled over to the year 2010, Vodaphone revealed a new international headquarters as designed by Barbosa Guimaraes, a truly wonderous building.  The Vodaphone Headquarters, located in Porto, Portugal is a wild work of sculptural architecture, a building that appears to be born in dreams, not reality.  The design was envisioned as an extension of Vodafone’s slogan, “Life in Motion“, as the headquarters building appears to be growing, and developing in a fashion far outside of conventional thinking.  While the structure is sculptural, its execution is purely functional.  This unconventional building does not hinder its purpose by being overly flashy or different.  It is at once functional and progressive, a success in the world of modern architecture. [photos by friend of TheCoolist Nelson Garrido]

Vodaphone Headquarters Gallery

Bridle Road Residence by Antonio Zaninovic

This stunning work of modern architecture is special not only for its contemporary structure, but the landscape around it.  The Bridle Road Residence by Antonio Zaninovic earned honors by the American Society of Landscape Architects for having one of 2010’s best landscape architecture designs.  The home was built at the base of a mountain overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the heights of Cape Town, South Africa.  The home features a landscape with a rare local species of plants that is endangered by local development, but is the central focus of this home’s garden.

Bridle Road Residence Gallery

JD House by BAK Arquitectos

When it comes to sustainable architecture, few are as progressive as BAK Arquitectos.  Their work in the coastal town of Mar Azul, Argentina is a prime example of their discipline, showcasing a form of architecture that is conscious to the land around it as well as the materials they use in its construction.  The JD House by BAK Arquitectos is made of concrete and local wood, but built without disturbing the trees within its plot.  Above, you can see an old pine rising through the floor and roof of the JD House, and the needles below are barely touched in its development.  The home itself is beautiful and contemporary, with a design that makes its natural plot the center of its existence.  BAK Arquitectos have built many more in Mar Azul, but the JD House is the gem of their portoflio.

JD House Gallery

Azahar Group Headquarters by OAB

The Azahar Group Headquarters in Castellon, Spain was designed to be reflective of its environment and the sustainable aims of the company within.  Azahar Group develops “environmental logistics” for developing countries, helping to create sustainable systems that give back to third world people and places.  Their own offices needed to reflect this, so the design was fit with rainwater recycling systems, natural lighting and climate control systems and a landscape that is fed from runoff of the building’s steep design.  That design is a continuation of the mountainous environment around it, with angular pitches and peaks that look right at home with the hills behind it.

Azahar Group Headquarters Gallery

Glass Pavilion House by Steve Hermann

Designer Steve Hermann created one of the year’s best works of residential architecture, the Glass Pavilion House of Montecito, California.  This home bears a visual relation to the famed Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe, but perhaps improves upon the classic.  The home’s cool white walls, roof and flooring are lined with floor-to-ceiling glass that invites the outside in, while the privacy of its inhabitants is protected by the landscape around it.

Glass Pavilion House Gallery

ANZ Centre Melbourne by Hassell Architecture

The ANZ Centre Melbourne is a success in both interior elegance and sustainable systems, a prime example of an office building that can be pleasing to the eye and the environment.  6,500 employees of ANZ spend their work days in this office, which is more of a mixed use space than a traditional work environment.  ANZ Centre features a varied collection of spaces for personal work, cooperative spaces for impromptu meetings and relaxation spaces for dining and entertainment.  On the sustainable side, ANZ Centre includes solar and wind power production, river-based cooling systems, blackwater recycling, rainwater reuse and a green roof at its peak.  This building is a significant success in elegance and eco-consciousness.

ANZ Centre Melbourne Gallery

Modularing House by A-Cero Architects

A-Cero Architects are often celebrated in the world of residential architecture, so the group’s foray into prefab construction calls for more celebration.  The Modularing House is the result of A-Cero’s inspiration, a stunning, angular home with a reflective black skin.  A-Cero is hoping to produce these homes for a price near $93,000 USD, which could see serious adoption in A-Cero’s native Spain.  That slick black exterior is absolute eye candy, a progressive detail that we haven’t seen on another home yet.

Modularing House Gallery

Kanagawa Institute of Technology’s Glass Building

The Kanagawa Institute of Technology has a breathtaking new work space thanks to a design by Junya Ishigami and Associates.  This glass building provides an open connection to the Tokyo Bay environment, a place of quiet cooperation for hard working students.  Inside, plants are fed naturally from rays of sun that enter through the walls and sky lights, giving the interior a lush, green feel where life grows just like the ideas nurtured at KIT.  If you are as thrilled with this design as we are, be sure to check out our list of 15 amazing glass buildings.

KIT Glass Building Gallery

House 6 by Marcio Kogan

It is no secret that Marcio Kogan and his team are amongst TheCoolist’s favorite residential architects, so it should be no surprise to see their work on this list.  House 6 is one of Marcio Kogan’s latest, a work that continues the architect’s signature style with rectangular structures, stone walls, wood-slatted windows and a focus on the environment around it.  Like other Kogan works, House 6 places an emphasis on outside relaxation and entertainment, with a sprawling patio and pool that has enough space for a great party.

House 6 Gallery

Seed Cathedral by Thomas Heatherwick

The Seed Cathedral by Thomas Heatherwick represented the United Kingdom at the 2010 Shanghai Expo.  This amazing work of sculptural architecture comprises 60,000 acrylic rods, each one bearing a plant seed at its inner tip.  This building has dual roles– one to house and inform the visitors of the Shanghai Expo, and to also act as a seed bank to archive Earth’s ecological history.  The Expo was home to many great architectural achievements, where the Danish Pavilion and the South Korean Pavilion also stood out, but the Seed Cathedral was the most significant.  Want to see the ten best?  Check out our list of the best of the Shanghai Expo Pavilions.

Seed Cathedral Gallery

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Dig architecture?  We do too.  Beyond the ten items we covered above, TheCoolist also ran many feature lists on some of today’s greatest trends in architectural design.  From abandoned places to projection mapping, green roofs to modern dog houses, here are five of our favorites from the past year: