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Spectacular façades: Gold architecture is the ultimate in sophisticated style

Sophisticated, extravagant, classic: Golden façades in architecture are a guaranteed eye-catcher and add a touch of luxury to any construction. Contemporary architects are finding ways to work gold into their designs – whether their building is brimming with intricate details or consciously streamlined and minimalist. Here are five gold-covered structures that couldn’t be more different if they tried.

Library of Birmingham: Walking the line between tradition and modernity

The city of Birmingham, UK was once the country’s metalworking heartland – and it’s fair to say that it was not known for extraordinary feats of architecture. But the city has now become home to a spectacular building by Dutch architecture studio Mecanoo, who made the courageous decision to go for gold.

The city’s new 30,000 square-metre library is the largest public library in Europe: A place where history, culture and entertainment come together under a single golden roof.The gold-covered structure is based on a fascinating museum-like design made up of a number of modules stacked on top of one another. The façade is a shimmering combination of gold and silver panels and glass elements, with a delicate pattern of interwoven rings finishing the look. The materials were selected with good reason: The metal rings are a nod to Birmingham’s metalworking industrial past, while the gold elements are a direct reference to the city’s jewellery quarter. The golden “globe” atop the building is home to the Shakespeare Memorial Room, which was originally founded in 1882 and houses the most important Shakespeare collection in the country – a highlight for any literature aficionado.

Source: Mecanoo / YouTube

Museum of Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland: A golden gem among ancient buildings

The Museum of Rapperswil-Jona in Switzerland is proof that even gold architecture can master subtlety, forming a seamless transition between historic and contemporary styles. The new golden building, known as “Janus”, features a perforated bronze façade.

Nestled between two parts of a historic building, the construction certainly catches the eye, yet does nothing to detract from or alter the historic structures around it. Designed by architecture studio mlzd from Biel, this building is a fine example of contemporary architecture that respects its surroundings.

Source: Stadtmuseum Rapperswil-Jona /

“Golden Cube” Parisian student accommodation

The eight-storey student apartment block known as the “Golden Cube” is situated in Boulogne-Billancourt, one of the suburbs to the west of Paris. This complex, by architects “Hamonic + Masson Associés”, houses 156 apartments complete with balconies for each resident.The perforated steel sheets, metal railings and window frames were all treated in the same harmonious gold tone to create a unique monochrome colour scheme

At first glance, the shining façade appears to be nothing more than an aesthetic show of luxury, but there’s more to this building than meets the eye: Behind the gold exterior are a number of nesting boxes for birds, who can use the building to lay their eggs and rear their young without being disturbed.

Le Monolithe: A golden mixed-use complex in Lyon, France

“Le Monolithe” was completed in 2010 as a mixed-use complex of residential units, offices and shops in Lyon’s urban planning development zone, and is a prime example of the new future of design. The construction is comprised of five separate parts, which were designed by different architects yet still form a single, coherent structure. These sections are mounted on a concrete “plinth” building painted in a warm shade of gold, adding an interesting accent to the architectural mix. The golden building was designed by architects Emmanuel Combarel and Dominique Marrec. The objective of the concept? To highlight the vast scope of architectural design while creating a living space entirely free of hierarchical structure.

Denmark’s golden museum dedicated to rock’n’roll

In the famous festival city of Roskilde in Denmark, whose eponymous music festival brings 115,000 visitors to the island of Zealand each year, architects from MVRDV and COBE have designed a museum dedicated to rock’n’roll – and clad it in gold. The architectural design is a direct reference to the two sides of rock’n’roll; the inside and outside of the building reflect the kitsch and the glitzy, glamorous rock culture of the 50s and 60s.

The golden, anodized aluminium panels are reminiscent of the flamboyant clothing of early rock stars. The inside, decorated predominantly in a sumptuous shade of deep red, looks like the velvety interior of a guitar case. The geometric façade has a studded-effect finish, like the leather jackets worn by rock stars.

What do you think of golden façades? Is it a great look, or a little over the top? Let us know in the comments!

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