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The Best International Architecture of 2016

The World Building of the Year 2016 shortlist was released in early July, with over 300 projects from 58 countries having been selected as potential winners. This year's candidates will be judged over 32 categories, and the World Building of the Year and Future Project of the Year titles will be awarded at the World Architecture Festival, taking place from 16 to 18 November in Berlin. Such prestigious awards promote further exposure for the architectural firms involved, but also highlight the sheer innovation and excellence in design across the world this year. A large number of shortlisted entries are based in the UK this year, but what stands out for us at HL are the three future projects being developed right here in South Africa: the Wangari Muta Maathai House in Joburg, the SN Sinndia in Cape Town and the Malamulele Council Building in Joburg.  Here are a few of our favourite global projects in the running for the World Building of the Year title.

len lye centre by patterson associates

len-lye-centre-pattersons Image Credit: The Len Lye Centre in New Zealand is a home for new gallery spaces, education studios and a cinema. An archive room is dedicated to Len Lye, an experimental film producer and kinetic sculptor. The large, wave-like reflective surfaces use stainless steel and concrete, making the building unique to its surrounding environment.

crystal houses by mvrdv

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The contrast between historical architecture and modern reflective surfaces makes for an eye-catching flagship store on Hooftstraat, Amsterdam. Crystal Houses uses glass window frames, bricks and architraves to create an unforgettable retail space for Chanel. This illusive design is at the forefront of glass construction.

vinero wine factory by tekeli-sisa architectural partnership

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Despite South Africa's endless archive of great local wine farms, we have to say we're still quite taken by this space based in Turkey. The Vinero Winery is an eclectic mix of large wooden surfaces and various uses of stone. The array of brown tones blend well with the environment and the  contemporary space is the perfect cocoon for delicious wine-making.

multi-aged community centre by burnazzi feltrin architects

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This modern community centre was recently completed in the historical town of Poggio Picenze, Italy. All ages can enjoy this space, which houses a library, multi-purpose rooms and Internet stations. The building is comprised of large pieces of larch wood, tall steel wires to foster natural vine growth and a roof that is covered in grass plots. The centre aims to immerse itself organically within its location and proves to be faultless in design.

saigon house by a21studio, vietnam

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Nestled within the bustling Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, this beautiful restored alley-like home captivates, not because of the use of any luxury materials, but because of the artful utilisation of colour and concrete. This building highlights the deconstruction of Saigon culture and values during the war, but despite the strong historical influence, it proves to be romantic and utterly charming.

butterfly pavilion by 3deluxe, united arab emirates

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This feminine structure houses an operating café and is one of the latest and most in-demand tourist attractions in the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. The pavilion is currently cocooned by over 4000 aluminium flowers. The modern use of materials contrasts with the organic theme of the building, making this an exceptional masterpiece.

via 57 west by bjarke ingels group (big)

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New York is known as the concrete jungle of the United States, and with such large skyscrapers framing the streets, we had to highlight Via 57 West by the Bjarke Ingels Group, which launched early this year. This triangular sculpture is a framework for living, working and exercising, a modern and rather robust take on a Big Apple skyscraper.

naman pure spa by mia design studio

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The Naman Pure Spa in Vietnam is a fairytale of greenery, water and concrete sculpture. The emphasis on plants and water makes this retreat an oasis of tranquility and escapism and a leader in organic design, and the brise soleil-style structure allows for natural ventilation. We have to salute MIA for designing this majestic hotspot.

tree house by rogers stirk harbour + partners

rogers-stirk-harbour-partners-tree-house Image Credit:

This enterprising project by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners entertains a new definition of low-cost housing. This modular structure is based on the principle of using cost-effective materials to quickly assemble and develop housing. This image above is an example of how the structure could be used in a favela in South America. The use of colour and simple timber makes the housing appear playful.

jungle house by studio mk27, são paulo

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The Jungle House has received much attention online, and it's easy to see why. This modern home is hidden away within a rain forest on the Paulista shore in Sao Paulo, and comprises three levels that host six bedrooms, a living room, swimming pool, kitchen and an entertainment room for children. The use of exposed concrete and various types of wood make the house sit in harmony with the surrounding vegetation. The property stands on two concrete pillars, making it appear to gently float in the forest. See all the other shortlisted buildings over at