ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

Top five buildings you wish you had designed

From the Guggenheim to The Shard, get a dose of building inspiration from five of the most iconic buildings in the world

Top five buildings you wish you had designed
23 October 2013

You don’t have to be an architect to have a fascination with great building design. Sometimes it’s not the technical aspects, although watching the sunset from a 310ft building is pretty mind-blowing. It’s about how these structures reflect the culture in which they were built and of course the sheer beauty. The Seiko Astron GPS also has great design and features a flight-safe mode for the GPS receiver which allows the watch to pinpoint exactly where you are on the planet, adjusting automatically to the local time and date. All powered by the energy of light.

Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur

If you have a serious fear of heights, then perhaps this isn’t for you. Standing at a vertiginous 1500ft – it was the tallest building in the world until 2004 when Tapai 101 took the crown – the Petronas Twin Towers is Kuala Lumpur’s most iconic structure. Designed by architects Cesar Pelli and Achmad Murdija, its glass and steel towers are a modern throwback to Islamic architecture, but with a hint of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory elevator scene about it. Step out onto the Skybridge that links the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Or keep your feet firmly on the ground where you’ll find the Sura KLCC Mall, restaurants and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Shard, London

Dubbed the ‘vertical city’ by its architect Renzo Piano, as the majority of the building is taken up by offices, restaurants and a hotel, the tripod-shaped silhouette of The Shard has transformed the look of London’s skyline. The 72-storey skyscraper made mostly of glass and steel is Europe’s tallest building and on a clear day you can see up to 40 miles across the capital. With a host of geeky features such as a steel tip that can withstand winds up to 100mph and eight angled glass facades that reflects the surrounding city, it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

A visit to Bilbao wouldn’t be complete without a trip to gawk at the world famous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Designed by ‘starchitect’ Frank Gehry, the rippling titanium clad building has been hailed an architectural masterpiece for its unusual design. The 32,500 square-metre site that houses contemporary paintings and sculptures, sits alongside the Nervión River in the old industrial heart of the city. Although the Guggenheim has spawned a host of copycats with everyone trying to recreate the Bilbao effect, no-one has captured the essence of Genhy’s 20th century modern thinking.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Shaped like a yacht’s sail or Arabian dhow, the Burj Al Arab defines everything that Dubai is about. Think OTT opulence with enough mod cons you can shake a gazillion Dirhams at, and with ‘price not an issue’, we’re pretty sure Jumeirah International who commissioned Brit architect Tom Wright spent big bucks making the mammoth structure a reality. What makes it distinctive is not just the shape, but also the location of hotel. The 1,053ft steel and glass structure juts out of the Persian Gulf and can only be reached via a causeway that is only accessible by the hotel’s Rolls Royce fleet.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Originally built by Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul has had many guises; first it was a church, then it morphed into a mosque before finally deciding on a museum. Considered one of the eight wonders of the world, it is the perfect example of Byzantine architecture. While the exterior is impressive, it’s the interior that really stands out. Decorated with coloured glass mosaics, artistic wall coverings and with pillars galore, the beautiful interior is all sheltered under a massive dome roof. But the Hagia Sophia’s ultimate claim to fame is being featured in the opening scenes of the most recent Bond film, Skyfall.