50-Buildings-2012

1. Abraj Al-Bait - 601m - Mecca, Saudi Arabia

There are many reasons people hate this building. These range from a simple dislike of its scale and kitsch style, all the way to seeing it, one of the largest buildings in the world, as a symbol of both commercialism and the ongoing destruction of Islamic heritage sites. This is further complicated by the fact that it is metres away from Masjid al-Haram (the largest mosque in the world) which holds within it the Kaaba (the most sacred site in Islam).

The building is designed to cater to the millions of pilgrims who arrive in Mecca every year during the Hajj, which is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world and one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Now I’m not really in a position to have a real opinion on this, but to me it seems hard to believe that the current (understandable) backlash will last. Over time the tainted image of this building will fade and it will likely become a symbol in itself. A symbol of the Hajj, Mecca, even Islam. Even if it takes several decades or several centuries, I do not believe the world’s view on this building will stay negative. But this is just the humble opinion of a 21 year old who knows very little about Islam and even less about the future.

There are plans that may still eventuate that involve far more extensive construction in the area. If they push it too far I feel my opinion will change very fast.

As for this building I find the kitsch style entirely bearable; the clock face and the spire are particularly beautiful. There are a combination of styles here that come together to make something quite unique. And my god, the size of it…

Superficially I find it glorious. Definitely the most interesting and exciting building of the year.

2. Ryugyong Hotel - 330m - Pyongyang, North Korea

It’ll be interesting to see how long it will take for this building to be utilised to its full potential. Its role in the future seems a little unclear at this point.

There are some reports that the concrete structure was damaged during its long period on hold, but I sure hope that has been exaggerated. Given how politically sensitive the region is, it’s pretty much impossible to know the truth.