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See Which of These 20 Amazing Architecture Shots Won World's Best Building Image 2017

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 21 November 2017

Last year was a brick reservoir in London, this year Arcaid Images Architectural Photographer of the Year Award went to Terrence Zhang for his ‘striking image’ of Tianjin University’s new swimming pool in China, designed by Atelier Li Xinggang.

The winner was announced at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin on the final day of the three-day event, which sees international architecture firms come together to celebrate the globe’s finest architecture.

The jury said of the photograph: ‘The image is framed beautifully by the curved ceiling arches of the structure’s roof,’ and went on to praise the shot for capturing the rays of sunlight entering through the clerestory windows, creating playful highlights and shadows on the water.

Swimming Pool, New Campus of Tianjin University, China by Atelier Li Xinggang

Gymnasium of the New Campus of Tianjin University, China / Atelier Li Xinggang | © Terrence Zhang

Alongside this winning image, the 20 shortlisted entries to the Arcaid Awards will be showcased at the Building Images exhibition, held at events space Sto Werkstatt, London in February.

Each year, entrants submit their images into four different categories – Exterior, Interior, Sense of Place, and Buildings in Use, which are then judged by a panel of photographers, designers and journalists who select the shortlist based on qualities such as composition, atmosphere and use of scale.

‘More than just informing people about the existence of such places, the best photos go beyond that and entice people to learn more about the buildings, cities, and landscapes – maybe even booking a flight to see them first-hand. That feeling hit me on numerous occasions,’ said the editor of the World-Architects eMagazine, John Hill.

Here are the other 19 shortlisted entries:


Project: Samsung Electronics HQ building, San Jose, California, USA / NBBJ

Photographer: David Crawford

This new building in the heart of Silicon Valley is shaking things up in the tech region, where nondescript two-storey office blocks dominate the landscape. Samsung is just one of the companies among the giants such as Apple and Nokia which is putting more of a focus on hospitable working environments that cultivate creativity for its staff.

Samsung Electronics HQ building, San Jose, California, USA / NBBJ. Image © David Crawford

© David Crawford

Project: Bosjes Chapel, Ceres, Cape Town, South Africa / Steyn Studio

Photographer: Adam Letch

London-based firm Steyn Studio designed this chapel set within a scenic vineyard in South Africa. The intriguing shape is inspired by the mountain ranges that dominate the surrounding landscape, while also paying tribute to the Cape Dutch gables that are archetypal of the Western Cape. The frames of the glazing that join at the centre cleverly form a contemporary crucifix.

Bosjes Chapel, Ceres, Cape Town, South Africa / Steyn Studio. Image © Adam Letch

© Adam Letch

Project: North wall of the Revel Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA

Photographer: Brian Rose

This image portrays the social divide in the US and its fragile political landscape, as the photographer Brian Rose explains on his blog: ‘I’ve been working on an Atlantic City series with a fairly straightforward political intent. To frame Donald Trump as the scam artist we have known about for years, and to place him at the centre of the destruction of Atlantic City, a quintessentially American story of greed and (literally) casino capitalism… American values and idealism, however, survive somewhere between the crumbling houses and the monolithic glass wall of the casino — the little American flag in the vacant lot flapping in the sea breeze.’

North wall of the Revel Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Image © Brian Rose

© Brian Rose

Project: SALA Ayutthaya Hotel, Ayutthaya, Thailand / Onion

Photographer: Wison Tungthunya

The image of this 26-room boutique hotel in Thailand showcases locally crafted brickwork that’s juxtaposed by the crisp-white walls, which actually help to prevent the flooding that happens every year. The Sala Ayutthaya hotel sits across from the breathtaking old capital of Thailand, with the restaurant and riverfront suites enjoying views over the Chao Phraya River.

Sala Ayutthaya Hotel, Ayutthaya, Thailand / Onion. Image © Wilson Tungthunya

© Wison Tungthunya

Project: Sumida Hokusai Museum, Tokyo, Japan / Kazuyo Sejima

Photographer: Laurian Ghinitoiu

This museum is dedicated to the work of famous Japanese artist Sumida Hokusai (Katsushika Hokusai), located in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward, which is where he spent most of his life. The design of this imposing building is by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kazuyo Sejima and has become a new iconic landmark.

Sumida Hokusai Museum, Tokyo, Japan / Kazuyo Sejima. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

© Laurian Ghinitoiu


Project: Dongzhuang Building Museum of the Western Regions, China / Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute

Photographer: Yao Li

The eastern side of this museum in China captures the majestic and uninterrupted view of the mountains. It used to be a 1950s grain mill, which has been transformed into a light and airy museum of the Western Regions. It is designed to look like a stone that’s rolled down from the mountain, seamlessly blending into the landscape of the Nanshan grasslands.

Dongzhuang Building Museum of the Western Regions, China / Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute. Image © Yao Li

Project: Baan Moom residence, Bangkok, Thailand / Integrated Field

Photographer: Wison Tungthunya

The distinctive shape of this family home is inspired by the owners’ love of nature, gardening and open space, with the three storeys stacked on top of each other to create as much room as possible on the ground floor, while also providing access to daylight through a central atrium and plenty of glazing.

Baan Moom residence, Bangkok, Thailand / Integrated Field. Image © Wilson Tungthunya

© Wison Tungthunya

Project: Tianrenhe Museum, Hangzhou, China / HHDFUN

Photographer: Zhenfei Wang

This is Hangzhou’s first private contemporary art museum, which is located in a former train depot and factory. It’s an impressive space at 2,000m², costing several million yuan to convert, with a huge 200m wall that’s led to it being dubbed ‘China’s longest museum’.

Tianrenhe Museum, Hangzhou, China / HHDFUN. Image © Zhenfei Wang

© Zhenfei Wang

Project: Ponte City Apartments, Johannesburg, South Africa / Manfred Hermer

Photographer: Ryan Koopmans

This 1970s tower block used to be luxury (white-only) apartments in South Africa, which eventually became a notorious slum, known for its suicides, crime and poverty. In the last 15 years or so, however, the building has become subject to gentrification once more, yet with a somewhat more multi-ethnic community at its heart.


Ponte City Apartments, Johannesburg, South Africa / Manfred Hermer. Image © Ryan Koopmans

© Ryan Koopmans

Sense of Place

Project: Folk Art Museum, China Academy of Arts, Hangzhou, China / Kengo Kuma

Photographer: Terrence Zhang

Built on a former tea field in the hillside, the folk art museum reflects the topography of the site, following the terrain of the terraced slope in its stepped geometric design. The view from the window is reminiscent of looking out on top of a traditional village of tiled roofs.

Folk Art Museum, China Academy of Arts, Hangzhou, China / Kengo Kuma. Image © Terrance Zhang

© Terrence Zhang

Project: Choi Hung Estate, Hong Kong

Photographer: Fabio Mantovani

A haven for Instagrammers, this colourful housing estate is one of the oldest in Hong Kong and was recognised by the Hong Kong Association of Architects with a Silver Medal award in 1965. ‘Choi hung’ translates as ‘rainbow’ in Chinese.

Choi Hung Estate, Hong Kong. Image © Fabio Mantovani

© Fabio Mantovani

Project: Messner Mountain Museum Corones, Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy / Zaha Hadid Architects

Photographer: Tom Roe

This incredible museum designed by Zaha Hadid Architects is built into the landscape at the summit of Mount Kronplatz in the popular South Tyrol ski resort. It’s named after the famous climber Reinhold Messner – he was the first to climb Everest without tanked oxygen – and is the sixth Messner Mountain Museum to be built.

Messner Mountain Museum Corones, Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Tom Roe

© Tom Roe

Project: Museum of Pop Culture (formerly known as the EMP Museum), Seattle, USA / Gehry Partners

Photographer: Conchi Martínez

This striking image captures the Museum of Pop Culture from a different angle, looking up at the Seattle Centre Monorail. The building is designed in a signature Frank Gehry style, but it’s not for everyone – Forbes magazine named it one of the world’s top 10 ugliest buildings.

Museum of the Pop Culture (formerly known as the EMP Museum), Seattle, USA / Gehry Partners. Image © Conchi Martínez

© Conchi Martínez

Project: Black Rock Lighthouse Service in the Nevada desert (Burning Man), USA

Photographer: Tom Stahl

Tom Stahl captures one of the incredible structures erected at the Burning Man gathering, an annual event in Black Rock City in the western United States, which is described as ‘an experiment in temporary community‘ by Burning Man.

Black Rock Lighthouse Service in the Nevada desert (Burning Man), USA. Image © Tom Stahl

© Tom Stahl

Buildings in Use

Project: Gymnasium of the New Campus of Tianjin University, China / Atelier Li Xinggang

Photographer: Terrence Zhang

This is another shot from the winning photographer that perfectly combines impact and composition. The building was designed by China’s famous architect Li Xinggang, who is an alumni of the university.

Gymnasium of the New Campus of Tianjin University, China / Atelier Li Xinggang. Image © Terrance Zhang

© Terrance Zhang

Project: Selegie House, Singapore / Housing and Development Board

Photographer: Siyuan Ma

This iconic housing development is over 50 years old and was Singapore’s first high-rise HBD complex. The building, which was completed in 1963, was the tallest residential block at the time and has now become a muse for photographers in the city.

Selegie House, Singapore / Housing and Development Board. Image © Siyuan Ma

© Siyuan Ma

Project: Derby Arena Velodrome, UK / FaulknerBrowns Architects

Photographer: Martine Hamilton Knight

This brightly coloured multipurpose arena isn’t just a top venue for cyclists – the building also holds 12 courts, a fitness centre and has even held pantomimes. Designed for flexibility and inclusivity, the building has become a local landmark and won a RIBA regional award in 2016 for its innovative design.

Derby Arena Velodrome, UK / Faulkner Brown Architects. Image © Martine Hamilton Knight

© Martine Hamilton Knight

Project: ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark / Schmidt Hammer Lassen + Olafur Eliasson

Photographer: David Borland

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects created a new extension to Aarhus’ ARoS Art Museum in the form of a huge 1,200 semi-subterranean dome. The firm worked in collaboration with American artist James Turrell to provide a unique visitor experience full of colour and light. The architects said of the project: ‘With its 40m diameter, the Dome will form one of the most spectacular spaces ever built into an art museum.’

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark / Schmidt Hammer Lassen + Olafur Eliasson. Image © David Borland

© David Borland

Project: Office building, Beijing, China

Photographer: Tom Stahl

The facade of this reflective office building in Beijing was captured by the photographer who was also shortlisted for his Burning Man festival image. The San Franciscan gave up his day job to travel for 18 months to ‘document his explorations of the world’.

Office building, Beijing, China. Image © Tom Stahl

© Tom Stahl

See the Building Images exhibition at the Sto Werkstatt, London in February. To see last year’s shortlisted entries, click here.