Waking along any given coastline, it appears that, at times, the inspiration for water-adjacent architecture is more conceptual, dramatic, and impactful than for traditional structures. Perhaps the inspiration comes from a distinctive set of styles that can only be found floating upon bodies of water. Which is why architects the world over have designed coastal buildings with the same graceful curves of the sails on a yacht. It’s only fitting that some of the most elegant sea vessels would inspire architects like Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava, and become the aesthetic touchstone for buildings like the iconic Sydney Opera House and Burj Al Arab. Here, AD presents a selection of some of the most beautiful nautically designed structures from around the globe.
Kobe Maritime Museum (Kobe, Japan)
Opened in 1987, the Kobe Maritime Museum in the namesake city of Japan features a swooping roofline of white steel latticework reminiscent of three wind-filled sails. At night, the structure is sometimes lit up in different colors, like green, orange, or pink.
Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
The Quadracci Pavilion, one of three buildings that make up Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Art Museum, was designed by visionary architect Santiago Calatrava with a glass-enclosed reception hall in the shape of a boat’s prow.
Canada Place (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Set on the waterfront of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Place is a convention center and hotel with a peaked fabric roof with a sailboat-style look that has been compared to the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Opera House (Sydney)
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Australia (if not the world), the Sydney Opera House by architect Jørn Utzon features soaring, sail-shaped roofs that were designed according to the geometry of a sphere.