Travel

Centres of attraction

Four pieces of architecture worth travelling to see

SAGRADA FAMILIA, SPAIN

No matter how many times one has visited Barcelona, a trip to the Sagrada Familia is still a must to catch up on its latest form.

The massive structure, known as the world's largest Gothic-style Catholic church, is the work of Antoni Gaudi, who spent 43 years designing and building it before he was killed in 1926 in a tram accident.

Some 134 years after the start of the project, the building remains a work-in-progress. The private group responsible for the building of the Sagrada Familia hopes to complete it in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

As of last year, 70 per cent of it had been completed.

Twelve towers have been erected with another six to be built. In 2010, the nave of the church was completed, which means that mass could finally be held inside.

From the skeleton-shaped Glory facade of the church that speaks of death and judgment, to the fluid Passion facade that illustrates the suffering and death of Jesus, every square inch of the Sagrada Familia astounds.

To keep the project on track, do visit as often as you can - the cost of building the church comes entirely from private donations and ticket sales.

Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain

HEYDAR ALIYEV CENTER, AZERBAIJAN

For a reason to visit Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, look no further than Zaha Hadid's most monumental design to date.

The Heydar Aliyev Center resembles a cave that rises smoothly from the crust of the earth before falling back into the ground again.

Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan.PHOTO: ZBBZ

Its softly flowing and rising lines embody Hadid's efforts to break free of the limitations of straight lines and corners of traditional architecture, as well as symbolise Azerbaijan's future cultural direction following its independence from the former Soviet Union.

The cultural centre, which was completed in 2013, is home to a library, a museum and a 1,000-seater hall.

Here, visitors are greeted by spectacular, postcard-worthy images every way they turn.

Visiting the centre is a good way by which to remember the late architect.

1, Heydar Aliyev prospekti, Baku AZ1033, Azerbaijan

FONDATION LOUIS VUITTON, FRANCE

The seven seas and its maritime creatures provided US architect Frank Gehry with plenty of inspiration for the arts centre he designed for the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the foundation's flagship for its cultural mission.

With 12 pieces of curved glass "sails" that fit precisely together, the edifice is aimed at showing 20th and 21st century art.

Since its opening in 2014, it has become a Parisian landmark and another destination for Gehry fans after the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Fondation Louis Vuitton in France.PHOTO: ZBBZ

Inside the centre are exhibition halls for the foundation's permanent collection, ad hoc exhibitions and artworks. There are 11 galleries and a hall that can hold more than 300 people.

Le Frank, a restaurant in the centre, is a must-visit. It is helmed by Jean-Louis Nomicos, the Michelin-starred chef from Les Tablettes in Paris.

The fish-shaped hanging lamps designed by Gehry, inside the minimalist space, are a feast for the eyes.

8, Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris, France

BENESSE ART SITE NAOSHIMA, JAPAN

The quiet island of Naoshima, with a population of less than 4,000, has been rated by British magazine Traveller as one of seven cultural destinations in the world that are most worth visiting.

Scattered across Naoshima are art museums, open-air art installations and hotels designed by Tadao Ando, built and managed along the concept of "Nature, Architecture and Art in Co-Existence".

The crown jewel among these is the Chichu Art Museum designed by Ando. The main part of the structure is built into the ground of Naoshima.

Benesse Art Site Naoshima in Japan.PHOTO: ZBBZ

As such, the museum is almost hidden from view and has to be experienced to be seen.

Ando has insisted on using natural lighting for the artwork within and used skylights of various shapes to welcome natural light into the museum.

Artworks include Claude Monet's Water Lilies, Walter de Maria's Time/Timeless/No Time and James Turrell's installation pieces, which are all part of the museum's permanent collection.

Once inside the structure, you will feel as though you have entered a dream-like maze of art carefully crafted by Ando.

benesse-artsite.jp/en

The article is adapted from ZBBZ, a bilingual luxury lifestyle magazine published by Lianhe Zaobao.

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