7 Unique Modern Structures in Southeast Asia
Look beyond ancient temples and zone in on some of the most prominent modern architectural masterpieces in Southeast Asia
When most people think about architecture in Southeast Asia, they tend to focus on ancient structures such as temples and monuments—and with good reason. The region is, after all, decorated with some of the oldest buildings the world has ever known.
However, recent times have seen the construction of numerous unique and beautiful buildings across Southeast Asia; buildings that glow with their very own magnificence and shine as symbols of modernization without shying away from being different. These contemporary structures are striking examples of cutting edge construction, and they represent a series of sights that you should not miss the chance to marvel at.
Here, we zoom in on some of these unique modern structures, and identify seven additional reasons why you should visit Southeast Asia—especially if you are a fan of architecture. So sit back, relax and enjoy this equally unique read!
1. Suvarnabhumi Airport | Bangkok, Thailand
The recently renovated Suvarnabhumi Airport was the result of an international architecture competition—and what a sophisticated, spacious and modern gateway into Thailand it is! It was designed by Helmut Jahn, and features the world’s tallest free-standing control tower.
This enormous building is flooded with light during the day thanks to an innovative roof trellis that is designed to let light in while shading the building itself from the tropical heat, thus reducing air-conditioning costs. The spacious terminals are mostly made from steel and glass, and they are designed to maximise the flow of passengers through what is one of the busiest airports in the world.
2. Green School | Bali, Indonesia
When it comes to modern buildings that are completely integrated into their natural surroundings, the Green School in Bali is an impressive example. It is made with sustainable materials such as bamboo, which grows quickly and is an eco-friendly alternative to depleting the rainforest. The campus is powered by a number of innovative energy sources, including a hydro-powered vortex generator, solar panels and bamboo sawdust hot water and cooking systems.
3. ArtScience Museum | Singapore
One of the primary attractions of Marina Bay Sands, the ArtScience Museum’s appeal comes from both its exhibits and its architecture. The latter is so due to the building’s contemporary structure, which was designed to represent Singapore’s welcoming hands. It can thus be seen as a combination of ten fingers or two open hands.
The tip of each of these ten segments has a series of filters which draws in natural light and channels it into the museum, showcasing its exhibits in their best natural state. This is why the ArtScience Museum continues to be a preferred gallery for exhibitions from all across the world.
4. Hei Tower | Hanoi, Vietnam
This towering skyscraper was the first prize-winning design in an architecture competition. Rather than having the typical box shape that can be expected of skyscrapers, it was transformed to create more space, with the building being a mix of two tetrahedrons.
This sleek and modern building houses offices and apartments, and it also has a huge garden with large, relaxing fountains and lush green vegetation in its vicinity.
5. Henderson Waves | Southern Ridges Walk, Singapore
Arguably the most commanding bridge in Singapore, Henderson Waves is a structure that impresses in terms of both appearance and the views it provides. Regarded as the nation’s highest pedestrian bridge, its 274-metre body is a union of steel and wood, combined in a fashion that simulates the undulation of waves.
It is best enjoyed as part of the Southern Ridges Walk, a hiking trail that will take you through three of Singapore’s most renowned parks. This makes it a popular destination amongst families and fitness enthusiasts. By nightfall, the bridge comes to life through an impressive array of LED lighting.
This massive 11 story-building was designed to look like it is encrusted with jewels, as the façade contains a complex geometric lattice pattern that is made from digital LED displays. At night, the balconies begin to glow and the LED lights of the façade’s pattern come to life.
Contrasting the modern geometric lines of the building are the lush gardens in its courtyard – tropical green spaces of tranquil relaxation for both tenants and visitors.
7. Petronas Twin Towers | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Petronas Towers are the most iconic modern buildings in Kuala Lumpur, standing nearly half a kilometre tall. When they were unveiled in 1998, they were the tallest buildings in the world.
Their unique tapered shape can be seen from vantage points all over Kuala Lumpur, and even from parts of the neighboring state of Selangor. Those who aren’t afraid of heights can take an elevator up to the Skybridge—a double-decker bridge that connects the two towers on their 41st and 42nd floors—for unparalleled views of Kuala Lumpur.
These are just a few of the most impressive modern structures in Southeast Asia; iconic structures that exemplify the region’s spirit of contemporary innovation in the field of architecture. Feel like visiting them and basking in their glory in person?