The architectural appearance of cities and countries is largely determined by personality of city planner who created it. In today’s article, we would like to present the top 10 greatest contemporary urban planners and architectural innovators whereas, in our next article, we might elaborate on how to become a city planner. The ranking criterion is based on assessment of the contribution of city planners to the world heritage, their innovative approach and international awards, in particular, the Pritzker Prize award, which is an equivalent to Nobel Prize in architecture.
Frank Gehry is an unusual urban planner. His works go beyond what is generally accepted, they turn modern reality upside down. A follower of deconstructionism, he breaks traditional forms trying to break the habitual ideas of a person about architecture. Gehry’s works are a whim of his imagination.
A distinctive feature of the British urban planner is his careful attitude to nature, desire for maximum environmental friendliness, consideration of innovations in the field of energy conservation. In Norman Foster’s projects, the streams of light and air are regulated by the buildings themselves, which contributes to energy savings. He likes to work with glass and steel, he tries to make buildings, he creates to organically fit into the environment. Of course, the famous architect sometimes struggles with being accepted by general public, but this does not prevent him from expressing himself and receiving rewards in large numbers.
Zaha Hadid, as an adherent of deconstructionism, seeks to destroy the established principles of architecture. Her inverted skyscrapers, unusual geometry of buildings, sharp corners and curved lines create a unique and completely non-standard urban environment. Gradually, along with changing reality of the world, Zaha’s style changes as well – now she pays more attention to the smooth lines. In 2004, Hadid became the first woman to receive Pritzker Prize, and in 2005 she was recognized as the best designer of the year as part of the first Design Miami exhibition. Hadid’s controversial style of urban constructing has even become a topic of recent studies within scholarly community. Her influence has spread all over the world, and her works are recognized as the most outstanding, as, for example, building of BMW’s main office (see image above) – it was named the best building of the year in Germany, according to the Federal Chamber of Architects.
Jean Nouvel does not have any specific techniques, as most urban planners do. He defines his method as “hyper-selectivity”. To ensure his buildings fit perfectly into the landscape and surrounding environment, he studies cultural traditions of the country where he is developing some urban design first, takes into account wishes of local residents, and then adapts his projects to others buildings nearby.
Often, style of Santiago Calatrava is defined as biotech. Probably, because he draws inspiration from nature itself, striving for the ecological compatibility of architectural structures and their movement, even if it is visual. In his approach, engineering and architecture are organically combined, and in buildings, sculpture of the buildings that he builds is the main thing for him, because Santiago himself is also a sculptor. All of his projects, the city planner treats with love, whether it is a chic building or just a bus garage.
Fuksas is convinced that any architect/urban planner should be first of all an artist. In his works, he does not strive for deliberate extravagance. All his buildings are easily recognizable, albeit surprising: for example, a concert hall always remains a concert hall without pretentiousness. His main goal, as he himself defines, is to “give emotions”.
The Japanese urban planner has no attachment to any particular cultural tradition chosen for a particular building. He freely combines classical forms with simple geometric volumes, without losing sight of the main idea underlying construction, and its architectural environment. Internationalism is what distinguishes Isodzaki from other Japanese creators who adhere to the traditional architecture of their country in modern buildings, and from his Western colleagues who are trying to fulfill a certain building in a single national style.
Hans Hollein, an outstanding Austrian architect, speaks the following about Arata Isozaki: “He is not only one of the best urban planners in the world, but he also stands out for his belonging to both Western and Eastern culture and the global scale of personality.”
Liz Ann Couture
Liz Anne Couture was born in Canada. She graduated from the University of Carlton in 1983, and in 1986 – the Architectural School of Yale University. More than 20 years ago, Liz Ann founded the Asymptote urban design group together with Hani Rashid.
Her architectural projects in Europe, Georgia, South Korea, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States speak volumes about the scale of her professional expansion.
A distinctive feature of urban planner is the direct connection of his creations with the surrounding nature – emphasis is always placed on interaction with the landscape. Hietil Torsen makes use of the planning methods used by Wright and Aalto architects integrating his buildings into a natural environment taking into account the landscape features.
A sense of humor is Stark’s ultimate design feature. His designs are technological and reliable, but at the same time have their character, which is not always complaisant. “The only true style is freedom,” says designer and he does stick to this philosophy in his works. According to Sunday Times, Philippe Starck is “the most revered designer in world.” Design and architecture for him are simply a point of application of irrepressible creative energy whereas the source of inspiration is always love.