The Best Architecture Designs of the Year

The Design Museum of London has just announced the contenders for its sixth annual Designs of the Year. And their shortlist for architecture showcases 17 structures that transcend buildings to become works of art.

A Room For London, (Southbank Centre), UK: Perched above Queen Elizabeth Hall at London's Southbank Centre, the boat-shaped, one-bedroom installation offers guests refuge and reflection amidst the surrounding flow of traffic. Designed by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with artist Fiona Banner.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Michael Day


Astley Castle, Warwickshire, UK: A sensitive renewal of this dilapidated castle in rural Warwickshire, the ancient shell forms a container for a dynamic series of interior contemporary spaces. Designed by Witherford Watson Mann.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Witherford Watson Mann


Book Mountain, Spijkenisse, Holland: This mountain of bookshelves is contained by a glass-enclosed structure and a pyramid roof with a total surface area of 9,300 sq m. A continuous 480m route culminates at the peak's reading room and cafe with panoramic views through the transparent roof. Designed by MVRDV.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Bart


Clapham Library, London, UK: This 19,000 sq ft public library is located in the heart of Clapham. It has room to accommodate more than 20,000 books, a new performance venue for local community groups, 136 private apartments, and 44 affordable homes. Designed by Studio Egret West.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: The New Clapham/Facebook


Four Freedoms Park, New York, USA: In the late 1960s, during a period of national urban renewal, New York City Mayor John Lindsay proposed to reinvent Roosevelt Island (then called Welfare Island) into a vibrant, residential area. On March 29, 2010, 38 years after its announcement, construction of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park began. Designed by Louis Kahn.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: FDR Four Freedoms Park LLC, Steve Amiaga/Paul Warchol/AP


Galaxy Soho, Bejing: Five continuous, flowing volumes coalesce to create an internal world of continuous open spaces within the Galaxy Soho building—a new office, retail, and entertainment complex devoid of corners to create an immersive, enveloping experience in the heart of Beijing. Designed by Zaha Hadid.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Ningbo Ningbo


Home For All: Presented at the Venice 2012 Architecture Biennale, Home for All is a proposal to offer housing solutions for all the people who lost their homes in the Japan's devastating 2011 earthquake. Designed by Akihisa Hirata, Sou Fujimoto, Kumiko Inui, Toyo Ito and Naoya Hatakeyama.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: The Japan Architect


Ikea Disobedients, (Performed at MoMA PS1), New York: Disobedients, an architectural performance by Madrid-based Andrés Jaque Arquitectos, was premiered at MoMA PS1, part of the 9+1 Ways of Being Political exhibition. It reveals how recent architectural practices use performance to engage audiences with architecture in a non-traditional way. Designed by Andrés Jaque Arquitectos IKEA.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Andrés Jaque Arquitectos


Kukje Art Centre, Seoul: This single-story building is draped in a stainless steel mesh blanket that fits precisely over its structure and merges with the district's historic urban fabric of low-rise courtyard houses and dense network of small alleyways. Designed by SO - IL.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Iwan Baan/SO-ILg


La Tour Bois-Le-Prêtre, Paris: The striking transformation of a run-down tower in northern Paris created an alternative approach to the physical and social redevelopment of decaying post-war housing. Designed by Druot, Lacaton and Vassal.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Frederic Druot Architecture


Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast: Wedged between two existing buildings, on a hemmed-in corner plot that sits beside the city cathedral, sits the Metropolitan Arts Center. The glazed tower sits atop the volcanic stone facade of this performing arts centre to create a beacon above the surrounding rooftops. Designed by Hackett Hall McKnight.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Christian Richters/Rory Hyde


Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Cleveland. The 34,000 sq ft structure, which is 44 percent larger than MOCA's former rented space, is both environmentally and fiscally sustainable. Designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Erik Daniel Drost


Museum of Innocence, Istanbul: The Museum of Innocence is a book by Orhan Pamuk, telling the story of a young man named Kemal in 1950s and 1960s Istanbul. Pamuk established an actual Museum of Innocence, based on the museum described in the book, exhibiting everyday life and culture in Istanbul during the period in which the novel is set. Designed by Orhan Pamuk with Ihsan Bilgin, Cem Yucel and Gregor Sunder Plassmann.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: brent granby


Superkilen, Nørrebro, Denmark: Superkilen is a kilometer-long park situated through an area just north of Copenhagen's city centre, considered one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods in the Danish capital. The large-scale project creates an urban space with a strong identity on a local and global scale. Designed by BIG, TOPOTEK1 and Superflex.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: DAC


Thalia Theatre, Lisbon: Built in the 1840s, the Thalia Theatre has been in ruins almost ever since. This project converts it into a multipurpose space for conferences, exhibitions and events. In order to retain the old walls, the exterior was covered in concrete, while the interior remains in its original condition. Designed by Gonçalo Byrne Arquitectos & Barbas Lopes Arquitectos.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: DMF/onçalo Byrne Arquitectos


The Shard, London, UK: The tallest building in Western Europe, the Shard transforms the London skyline. The multi-use 310m vertical structure consists of offices, world-renowned restaurants, the 5-star Shangri-La hotel, exclusive residential apartments, and the capital's highest viewing gallery. Designed by Renzo Piano.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


T-Site, Tokyo: A campus-like complex for Tsutaya, a giant in Japan's book, music, and movie retail market. Located in Daikanyama, an upmarket but relaxed Tokyo shopping district, the project's ambition is to define a new vision for the future of retailing. Designed by Klein Dytham.

The Best Architecture Designs of the YearS

Photo: choo chin nian


The Design Museum of London's Designs of the Year exhibition will be open through July 7th, with winners announced on April 17th. For ticketing information, head here.