Great heights and spectacular sights: The 17 coolest buildings on Earth

coolest buildings on earth hydar 3 720x480 c

Since claiming dominion over this drifting space rock, humans have peppered the planet with abodes and edifices both large and small. Over the past century, we scraped the sky with awe-inspiring stacks of steel — but sometimes bigger doesn’t always mean better. We’ve scoured atlas and encyclopedia alike — and of course the trusty internet — to find the most impressive buildings around the globe. From a flying saucer seemingly afloat in the Hollywood Hills to a Spanish cathedral more than a century in the making, here are our picks for the 17 coolest buildings on the planet.

W350 (Tokyo, Japan)

From Japanese construction company, Sumitomo Forestry, comes a 70-story skyscraper in Tokyo — made almost entirely out of wood. The planned structure, which is expected to be completed in 2041, will be made of 90 percent wooden materials. Known as the W350 Project, the skyscraper will tower nearly 1,200 feet in the air, and include both residential and public spaces. The eco-friendly building is projected to cost $5.6 billion, and is set to be completed on the company’s 350th anniversary. Buildings like this are part of a growing trend around the world, one that is looking to bring a more natural aesthetic to the glass-and-steel construction that proliferates modern architecture.

Heydar Aliyev Centre (Baku, Azerbaijan)

Azerbaijan was previously part of the Soviet Union and much of the capital, Baku — as well as much of the rest of the country — remains dominated by the lingering architecture of the bygone era. Once Azerbaijan gained independence in 1991, the government made it a point to break with the Soviet Modernism style by investing heavily in urban architectural development. Following a design competition in 2007, Zaha Hadid Architects was chosen to oversee the design of the Heydar Aliyev Centre. Today, the stunning Heydar Aliyev Centre exists as a true testament to this long-term city planning initiative.

Bosco Verticale (Milan, Italy)

The Bosco Verticale — or pair of so-called “vertical forests” — was completed in the Isola neighborhood of Milan in 2014. The Architecture firm Boeri Studio situated more than 600 tall trees, 500 smaller trees, and 2,500 plants and shrubs along terraces on all four sides of the two buildings. Based on estimates, these plants could remove about 25 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually while adding roughly 130 pounds of oxygen each day. The Bosco Verticale incorporates the number of trees one would find in a 10,000-square meter section of forest, according to the studio.

Benedictine abbey/Mont Saint-Michel (Normandy, France)

Sure, the Norman Benedictine abbey atop the Le Mont-Saint-Michel is quaint, but it’s really the rocky islet itself, Mont Saint-Michel, that pushes this World Heritage site to near the top of our list. Mont Saint-Michel is set just off the coast of Normandy and has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in France for years. During low tide, the surrounding waters subside allowing visitors to wander around the surrounding bay. In 2014, a new bridge connecting Mont Saint-Michel to the mainland was constructed to replace the 135-year-old causeway.

CCTV Headquarters (Beijing, China)
The CCTV Headquarters can be seen from virtually any part of Beijing, seemingly twisting and turning as you move about the sprawling metropolis. The two towers rise from a single platform, gradually leaning toward one another, and eventually merging to form a 246-foot cantilever. Tower 1 serves as the editing team’s home base, Tower 2 is dedicated to broadcasting, and the administration offices are located in the midsection overhang.
Auditorio de Tenerife (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain)

It should really come as no surprise that Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, has multiple designs featured in this roundup. That said, the Auditorio de Tenerife — situated on the Tenerife Island just off the coast of Moroccan — is one of Calatrava’s most stunning works. The iconic half crescent seemingly jetting from the Atlantic ocean shields the amphitheater and adds an overall aesthetic balance to the structure.

Lotus Temple (Dehli, India)

Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba oversaw construction of the Lotus Temple, and once consecrated the facility opened in late 1986. The design itself is based on the significance of the number nine in the Bahá’í faith. In total, the lotus is made of 27 individual petals and each of these are designed in a series of three forming nine total sides and another group of nine form three rings in the center of the structure. A ceiling comprised of glass and steel allows natural daylight to illuminate the interior prayer hall.

Bodegas Ysios (Laguardia, Spain)

The Bodegas and Bebidas Group commissioned renown architect Santiago Calatrava to design the Bodegas Ysios as a “temple dedicated to wine.” The winding aluminum roof and cedar exterior seemingly undulate into the surrounding foothills along the Sierra de Cantabria.

Jungle House (Guarujá, Brazil)

While the bulk of these buildings exist as museums, temples, or commercial space, the Jungle House is one of the few actual homes to make our final cut. Nestled in Guarujá, Brazil, the Jungle House is the brainchild of design studio Studio MK27. Completed in 2015, the home features three floors, six bedrooms, an infinity swimming pool, and a series of verandas allowing for panoramic views of the lush Brazilian rainforest.

Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
1 of 2