Europe’s skyline is forever changing. Its towns and cities are the backdrop for some of the world’s most exciting new structures – some of which within easy driving distance of our parcs. Make a detour to some of these incredible buildings to enjoy an inside view of the shape of things to come.
The shape of La Cité du Vin is said to reference wine swirling in a glass, the river swirling around the city, the vines stretching out towards the sun – however it speaks to you, that’s fine with Paris-based XTU architects. The ‘Guggenheim to wine’ museum is a joy to behold, and that’s before you’ve sipped and slurped your way around its aluminium-and-wood clad interior. Head to the top floor observation deck for a terrific view over the city to the vineyards of Bordeaux beyond.
Nearest parc: Pomport Beach
Marseille’s gritty maritime soul is softened by the curvaceous silhouette of Zaha Hadid’s daring reimagining of what a skyscraper can look like. The ‘queen of the curve’, Hadid was one of the world’s most iconic and influential architects of the past forty years. This is one of her more subtle creations, but nevertheless makes an impressive addition to Marseille’s skyline. It’s the head office for a transportation company, facing the sea and the city – symbolically linking the two.
Nearest parc: La Baie des Anges
Designed by visionary French architect Jean Nouvel, the Philharmonie de Paris is a vibrant expression of the joy of music. A physical representation of the thrilling places music can take us. It’s very French. Clad in over 300,000 bird-shaped aluminum tiles reflecting the beautiful Parc de la Villette, the building is a futuristic, yet soft and sensuous series of undulating balconies, and organic wave forms. Try to grab tickets for a concert too – because, inside, it’s a wonderfully intimate and soul-stirring space.
Nearest parc: Paris-Est-Champigny
As you’d expect from the ultra-luxe, fashion-forward brand, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is part modern art museum and part architectural wonder. Designed by the master of the undulating and the titanium-clad, Frank Gehry, the museum opened in 2014, in equally smart Jardin d’Acclimation. Its seemingly airborne glass panels evoke something of the Sydney Opera House, and its raised-aloft terraces offer spectacular views of the city. On the ground floor, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s stunning light and mirror installation is a discombobulating experience.
Nearest parc: International Maisons Laffitte
Do not adjust your eyes. You’ve not had one too many Riojas. San Sebastian’s striking new Kursaal Cultural Centre really does have a definite lean to it. Designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo to resemble two randomly beached rocks, the structures rise from one of the town’s six beaches, and glows a myriad of colours at night, thanks to the transluscent glass panels. It’s the hub of the city’s vibrant cultural scene – there’s always something going on here.
Nearest parc: Playa Joyel
It’s not all cuckoo clocks and cute timber chalets in Interlaken (well… it is, mostly). The Kunz und Mosch designed Congress Centre Kursaal is a jaunty, spiky addition this traditional Tyrolean town. The modern materials and uncompromising angles work beautifully, set against the more conservative architecture, and soft green silhoutes of the pine clad hills beyond. Sometimes, shaking things up is the only way to get noticed. And that’s certainly the case here.
Nearest parc: Manor Farm
Flaminio is a quiet suburb of Rome, but it’s also where a lot of the city’s must-see new architecture can be found. The most enjoyable of which, the Maxxi Museum of 21st Century Arts, is yet more proof of the genius that was Zaha Hadid. The museum’s audacious, chaotic and thrilling shapes seem random and confused – that’s because they were inspired by the city itself! – but they also just ‘work’. They demand you explore, wander and navigate every last nook and cranny. And, for a museum, that journey of discovery and surprise is a master stoke only Hadid could have pulled off.
Nearest parc: Camping Village Fabulous
Barcelona Design Museum is as striking and contemporary as the city it rises from. The Catalan capital has no shortage of awe-inspiring urban edifices: it’s the spiritual home of Gaudi (his organic forms beautifully infest the city – from Sagrida Familia to Casa Mila), but not content to live on past glories, the city’s commissioned scores of new projects which ignite its streets with flair and energy. Check out this cantilevered and environmentally-astute creation, with underground and overground galleries reducing its footprint – the parallelogram overground structure reaching breathlessly over the full width of the street below. Sometimes less is most definitely more. It’s close to the iconic Torre Glòries, the 38-story Gherkin-alike, too.
Nearest parc: Vilanova Park
Why build up, when you can build along? That’s the game-changing ideology behind the subtle and seductive new MAAT – Museum for Art, Architecture and Technology, in Lisbon. Amanda Levete’s design isn’t big and brash, but it is beautiful. “It’s more of a place than a building,” she said then it opened last year. Visitors can roam freely through the galleries, which flow like the River Tagus outside. And that’s another key to this building’s smart silhouette – it refuses to block out those great river views, instead becoming a new open space for the city to come, congregate and hunker down. Its roof is the city’s newest open park.
Nearest parc: Guincho
Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall nearly crippled the city, took an agonizing 16 years to complete, and still divides opinion. But there’s one thing everyone’s agreed on: you can’t deny its kerb-appeal! The building looks like an alien spaceship has temporarily landed on top of the sturdy old brick warehouse down at the docks. But this wonder is here to stay. Stroll around the rooftop Plaza for terrific views of the city, before diving into the hall itself to enjoy some of the best acoustics of any concert hall in the world (the building houses three auditoria). The building’s said to resemble a hoisted sail, and a wave, washing in from the North Sea.
Nearest parc: Südsee Camp