10 Best Global Architectural Projects Of 2016 Will Take Your Breath Away

Arch Daily compile their best projects of the year, but not after making an important point.

By Annette Barlow December 29, 2016
Lideta Market. Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Guajardo

End-of-year lists celebrating architectural accomplishments aren’t exactly places you’d expect to find people throwing shade. But that’s exactly what happened when ArchDaily recently posted their 10 Best Global Architecture Projects of 2016 list. Zeroing in on British critic Oliver Wainwright’s Top 10 Buildings of 2016, Arch Daily’s editors have taken umbrage with the Guardian columnist’s narrow—and distinctly western—selection.

“[Wainwright’s] map of the world appears to extend from New York in the West to Oslo in the East, with the Exception of Palestine,” ArchDaily wrote. “The Global South represents more than 40% of the global economy and already includes most of the world’s megacities, yet has no architecture worthy of recognition?” Meow. To be fair, Wainwright’s list is limited, taking in four projects in the UK and one in New York, detouring through Bordeaux, Hamburg, Switzerland, Norway and Palestine. Indeed, Wainwright: What about the rest of the world?

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According to ArchDaily, “The current boom of the Global South is based not only on new work, but rather on the recognition of an invisible architecture which was apparently not worthy of publication in the journals of the 1990s”. Not ones to complain and leave it at that, the ArchDaily team have compiled an alternative “best-of” list, their scope reaching significantly farther beyond the safe territories of London and the Big Apple.

Featuring on this more globalized list is the grand and imposing Lideta Market in Ethiopia, designed by Vilalta Arquitectura. The largest open-air market in Africa, the building features perforations in its vast pre-fab concrete shell, which allow and moderate the entry of light.

They also head Argentina way, where Nicolas Campodonico’s Capilla San Bernardo chapel, built totally in brick, borders an open field. Natural light bathes the building in warmth, and echoes the shape and form of traditional Argentine coal ovens.

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Other noteworthy entries include the Community Primary School for Girls in Sierra Leone, designed by Orkistudio, another brick building with a cantilevered roof; the Da Chang Muslim Center in China, created by the Architectural Design and Research Institute of SCUT, a gleaming white building with laced concrete detail; and the Constitucion Public Library in Chile, designed by Sebastian Irarrazaval, a non-traditional library space made up of three reticulated cubes of laminated pine, making up three thematic areas.

“We wanted to highlight the[se] projects in order to expand the western-centric world view,” says ArchDaily, “enabling us to truly comprehend the extent of architectural innovation on a global scale.” Oliver Wainwright, you’ve been told.

Annette Barlow



Annette is freelance editor, sub-editor, journalist and proofreader with a fierce love of all things feminist, food and music. She is a regular fixture on the arts, culture and feature desks at The Guardian, and her words have appeared on NME, Great British Chefs, The Fly, The Line of Best Fit and Australian Times.

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