Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science

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Architecture is a complex process that involves the use of arts and crafts, along with a lot of calculations and a solid understanding of the principles of physics and engineering. While every building, bridge, stadium, monument, and other type of structure must conform to certain limitations in materials and technology, it is possible to build structures that seem to deter the laws of nature.

From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the ancient Meenakshi Amman temple and the Empire State Building, the science of engineering has played a role important role by bringing balance and strength to each architectural wonder. However, some interesting structures are built so intelligently that sometimes it is almost impossible to detect exactly how they manage to stand.

Amanha Museum

The Museum of Tomorrow, located in Píer Mauá, Brazil. Source: Mariordo / Wikimedia Commons

The Museo do Amana (Museum of Tomorrow) is an outstanding museum and applied science center, located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and dedicated to the need for change to avoid climatic disasters and environmental degradation.

Designed by Catalan neo-futurist architect Santiago Calatrava, it is equipped with thousands of mobile photovoltaic solar panels and an advanced rainwater harvesting system. The team that designed the Museu do Amanhã claims that it is necessary 40% less energy than conventional structures its size, and the cooling system draws from the deep waters of nearby Guanabara Bay.

However, the most fascinating elements of the museum’s architecture are the building’s solar thorns, which hang in the air forward and back. The projections are designed to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Calatrava says he was inspired by the bromeliads in the botanical gardens in Rio.

In 2017, the museum received the Best Innovative Green construction price in the prestigious MIPIM real estate competition.

From Rotterdam

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
Rotterdam building. Source: Martin Falisoner / Wikimedia Commons

Ranked among the tallest buildings in the Netherlands, the De Rotterdam complex looks like a cluster of skyscrapers stacked on top of each other in a seemingly impractical way. The total height is 149.1 meters and there are a total of 44 floors in the De Rotterdam building. The resort feels like an overcrowded vertical city, as thousands of people live, visit and work here on a daily basis.

From the outside, it seems that the various towers of De Rotterdam are not properly laid out and could fall down at any time. However, inside, the three towers of the complex are strongly interconnected, their facades are constructed of light aluminum and glass, and the entire structure is supported by 1,100 gigantic concrete pillars. The structure was designed by Rem Koolhaas of the architectural firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Koolhaas would have thought that the most frequent view of these structures would be in motion, from a car window, and designed the complex so that the towers appear to separate and then merge as viewers pass.

Timmelsjoch Museum Experience Pass

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
Source: Timmelsjoch Museum

The Timmelsjoch Museum, which resembles a suspended beam, is located in a high mountain pass at the top of the Timmelsjoch Pass in the border region between Austria and Italy.

On one side, the pass rests on the rocky edge of the High Alpine Road Timmelsjoch which connects the regions of South Tyrol and North Tyrol. On the other side, the museum has a cantilever span 16 meters long. Thanks to this, the entrance to the museum is in Austria and the panoramic window opposite is in Italy.

Located at a height of over 2,500 meters from sea level, the Timmelsjoch Museum was completed in 2010, and it was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Timmelsjoch Alpine Road connecting Italy and Austria. The museum was designed by the South Tyrolean architect Werner Tscholl in such a way that from the outside it looks like a rock, while on the inside it looks like an ice cave, with a large ” stalactite “in the middle.

Rainier Tower

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
Rainier Tower in Seattle. Source: Cumulus / Wikimedia Commons

Standing on a narrow concrete base, the Rainier Tower in Seattle, Washington, resembles an inverted skyscraper and is also known as the “Beaver Building” among locals, for its resemblance to a tree that has been gnawed away at it. base by a beaver.

The tower was built in 1977 and was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki. The structure rests on an eleven storey (121 feet) high curved concrete pedestal that is only half the area of ​​the 12th floor.

The pedestal design creates additional space at street level and mitigates the “canyon effect” which can channel the wind along streets lined with skyscrapers. At the time of construction there were concerns about the strength and resilience of the design, but the reinforced concrete was carefully pre-tested by engineers and found to be strong.

Overhead crane

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
Source: Loz Pycock / flickr

Have you ever walked on a bridge that turns into an octagonal wheel when not in use? The overhead crane, which is located over the Grand Union Canal in Paddington Basin, London, follows such a design. The bridge uses hydraulic motion to extend and retract its eight sections.

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
Animated demonstration of the rolling bridge. Source: Y_tambe / Wikimedia Commons

The concept of the overhead crane was created by the famous British company Heatherwick Studio, and its technical design was conceived by Packman Lucas and SKM Anthony Hunts. This 12 meter long truss bridge was built using hydraulic actuators and steel frames. The bridge could not be permanent as access had to remain for any boats that might need to moor in the cove.

The bridge is made up of eight triangular sections and there are seven pairs of hydraulic jacks fixed in the balustrades. As these jacks extend, they push the handrail, causing the bridge to curl up. When the curling motion is complete, the two ends of the bridge touch each other to form an octagon.

The bridge winds and runs on a schedule (currently noon Wednesday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday), and is controlled by one person to prevent anyone from getting stuck.

Tenerife Auditorio

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
View of the Auditorio de Tenerife at night. Source: Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons

Located on the Canary Island of Tenerife, this majestic auditorium is famous among architecture students for its extraordinary arched roof design that resembles a half-crescent moon seen from afar at night. The auditorium was designed by Santiago Calatrava, the same architect who imagined the museum of tomorrow.

The arched roof, which also looks like a large wave of concrete, has two cone-shaped segments that intersect in the center and form a ridge line. The ribbed roof is mainly supported by the foundation of the building and the pointed concrete ends of the two lower roofs of the building. For its gravity-defying design and unique architectural appeal, the Auditorio de Tenerife is often called the most beautiful built structure in the Canary Islands.

Power King Mahanakhon

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
King Power Mahanakhon. Source: Kyle Hasegawa / Wikimedia Commons

This Bangkok-based skyscraper appears to be pixelated and broken (it isn’t) and was the tallest building in Thailand between its completion in 2016 and the construction of the Magnolias Waterfront Residences at ICONSIAM in 2018.

The skyscraper has a height of 314 meters and an area of ​​1.6 million square feet (150,000 square meters) and both residential houses and business units.

However, with such a unique design, it was also important to maintain the balance of the building’s gravitational load. Thus, to increase the strength of the structure, the architect Ole Scheeren and his team used a thick matte foundation and many mega columns. At night, a programmable system animates the eroded geometry of the tower with lights that echo the city’s daily cycle of activity.

Balancing barn

Architectural wonders that seem to defy the laws of science
The freely suspended side of the balancing barn. Source: MVRDV

This incredible building sits on a slope in the Thorington area of ​​Suffolk County, England. While half of this building looks quite normal, the other half of this vacation home appears to be suspended in the air without any support. However, in order to balance the weight, the foundation of the structure is provided with a central nucleus (towards the side which is fixed to the ground) which also includes a concrete slab 400 mm thick.

In addition, compared to the fixed side, the cantilevered part of the barn is maintained Light so that its center of mass does not move. This hanging cottage was built by MVRDV, an architectural firm based in the Netherlands.

Architecture itself is often defined as the art and science of building design, so not everything that is built around us can be devoid of science. However, some very well-designed structures sometimes give us the illusion that they are capable of defying scientifically proven laws of nature, but the truth lies in their foundation and internal framework.


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