In Hamburg, Herzog & De Meuron’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall (pictured) is a stunner, with its shimmering facade and tent-like roof comprising 1,100 mirrored glass panes.
On the other side of the world, Sydney has added to its list of iconic buildings with Frank Gehry’s startling design of twists and folds – some critics say it looks like a crumpled paper bag – for the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building (pictured) at the University of Technology Sydney’s Business School.
Another building that’s worth the trek is Harbin Grand Theatre (pictured). Rising up over the lush wetlands of north-eastern China, the design by Beijing-based Mad Architects features a sinuous facade of white aluminium panels that swoop in gorgeous swirls to evoke a drifting snowstorm.
The “starchitect” label is a little overused, but the late Zaha Hadid was certainly a true original. Her fluid and organic designs are scattered all over the world, but the Heydar Aliyev Center (pictured) in Baku, Azerbaijan, with its soaring white curls, is easily one of her most famous.
New Yorkers, meanwhile, are still swooning over Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The structure’s highlight is the Oculus (pictured), an internal rib of glass and stainless steel topped with an over 100m-long skylight that soars over the massive column-free hall.
Design buffs looking for a comprehensive tour of a city’s buildings can consider Architectural Adventures, which conducts trips to cultural hotspots such as Beijing, St Petersburg, Havana and Tallinn, led by local experts approved by the prestigious American Institute of Architects.