Every year, architects and interior experts flock to the World Architecture Festival in Berlin to pick the year’s most groundbreaking construction projects. Check out our best-of selection.

Heatherwick Studio, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa

When the Zeitz MOCAA opened its doors in September 2017, people were especially impressed by the building‘s unusual architecture: The new Museum for African Art resides in a historic grain silo.

MOCAA museum in Cape Town
Cape Town`s latest attraction: the MOCAA, housed in an old silo.
Image: World Architecture Festival/ Heatherwick Studio

To complete the new Cape Town landmark, the architects at Heatherwick Studio gutted a total of 42 silos. Now, a huge atrium ties everything together, while the museum portal’s structure reminds us of a super-sized grain kernel – and thus the building’s agricultural past.

Allwater, Hybrid Solid-Fluid Building Envelope, Taichung, Taiwan

Allwater’s “Hybrid Solid-Fluid Building” loves to toy with expectations – and the basic tenets of science. What, at first glance, might resemble a modern garden shed floating on water is actually a veritable vision and marvel of construction. Built from a special meta material, so-called “Allwater panels” invented by Hungarian architect Matyas Gutai, it purports to be sustainable and energy-neutral. Sounds a bit far-fetched or futuristic? On the contrary: Allwater tech could soon become everyday reality: Matyas Gutai is already making prototypes together with the Jüllich-Glas company.

Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, New Shanghai Theater, Shanghai, China

Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu might be well-known masters of subtlety, yet they couldn’t resist injecting a deliberate dose of drama into their conversion of the New Shanghai Theater. Among others, Neri and Hu covered the theater’s plain, austere facade in natural slate gray stone slabs and also expanded the entrance area into a generous plaza. Their finishing touch and coup de grace? Matt golden bronze struts on the theater’s interior walls, illuminated by well-placed LED spotlights.

gray facade of the New Shanghai Theater
A sober natural stone facade …
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
gray and golden interior of the New Shanghai Theater
… and a warmly lit entry plaza.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, Vendsyssel Theater, Hjørring, Denmark

Since early 2017, the newly erected Vendsyssel Theater has not only served as a stage for plays in the northern Danish town of Hjørring, but also as a multi-functional event location. To reflect this versatility, and to translate it to the outside world, the Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects team also created five exterior cubes, crafted from frosted glass and Corten steel, that encourage communication between the theater and its environs.

pink cubes; the Vendsyssel Theater in Denmark
Multifunctional cubes in Hjørring, Denmark.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Atlas Hotel Hoi An, Vietnam

Ever since the coastal town of Hoi received World Heritage status a while ago, thriving tourism is increasingly leaving its mark on the historic inner city. To counter this development and to make an aesthetic statement, Vietnamese star architect Vo Trong Nghia decided to take inspiration from the city’s traditional backyards for the Atlas boutique hotel. The building rests on concrete pillars, leaving the first floor invitingly open and bathed in light. Transposed brick walls and lusciously overgrown sandstone cubes protect guests from the glaring sun – and unwanted glimpses.

green facades of the Atlas Boutique Hotel
Lush greenery covers the Atlas Hotel in Vietnam.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Vo Trong Nghia Architects

Fearon Hay Architects, Forest House, Auckland, New Zealand

While fashion loves a layered look, layering hasn’t really made any headway in the world of architecture. Until now, that is. Fearon Hay Architects from New Zealand prove just how well this principle of stacking and combining different layers can work for construction: Their “Forest House” is not only cozy and intimate, but also open and representative. The perfect place for all facets of family life.

wooden facade of the Forest House in New Zealand
Cozy and intimate: the Forest House.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Fearon Hay Architects
living room with a fireplace in the Forest House
Muted colors for increased comfort.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Fearon Hay Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects, Salerno Maritime Terminal, Salerno, Italy

Capri, Positano, Pompeii – the Italian Amalfi coast is blessed with a rich string of cultural treasures. Its latest addition and attraction: the new ferry terminal at Salerno harbor, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Reminiscent of a swimming ray, the terminal’s shape pays obvious homage to the surrounding sea and slots seamlessly into Amalfi’s coastline – without dominating its natural beauty.

UArchitects and Misak Terzibasiyan, IKC de Geluksvogel, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Misak Terzibasiyan didn’t just want to build a school in Maastricht. Together with the UArchitects team, he created a building that encourages spatial exploration and experience through sliding walls, outdoor spaces, and a school garden. Designed to be completely energy-neutral and located near a nature reserve, this educational institution is bound to set a great example for the kids taught in it.

energy-neutral school building of the IKC de Geluksvogel in Maastricht
This Maastricht school serves as a role model.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ UArchitects / Misak Terzibasiyan

Wingårdh Arkitektkontor, Market Hall, Malmö, Sweden

The old train depot on Malmö’s Gibraltargatan street used to be a complete ruin – until entrepreneurs Nina and Martin Karyd decided to transform its remains into an urban market hall. Together with architects at Wingardh, they expanded the depot by a new building and clad the entire complex in Corten steel plates. For a breath of fresh (sea) air and plenty of light, they also included a glass corridor.

the redesigned Malmö market hall by night: one of the best projects of the World Architecture Festival 2017
From old to new: the market hall in Malmö.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Wingårdh Arkitektkontor
entrance of the market hall
The new annex is made of corten steel.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Wingårdh Arkitektkontor

Tchoban Voss Architekten, Tuchfabrik, Berlin, Germany

Berlin’s Tuchfabrik (“garment factory”) has reinvented itself – with a snazzy new look. Under the aegis of the Sergei Tchoban architecture studio, the disused factory received a sustainable revamp, connecting the previously separate buildings and also giving the facade a matching makeover. Now, lightweight layered boards stretching all around Tuchfabrik display a yarn pattern as a welcome reminder of the location’s rich history.

garment-shaped pattern on the facade of the Tuchfabrik in Berlin
Berlin’s Tuchfabrik remembers its textile mill history.
Photo: World Architecture Festival/ Tchoban Voss Architekten

For more infos on the World Architecture Festival, click here.