8 Of Britain's Most Impressive Buildings

1: The Lowry 
Following a Europe-wide competition, the British architect Michael Wilford designed The Lowry 
in Salford. Completed in 2000 at the end of Pier 8, it was designed to resemble a ship, with porthole windows, landings that look like gangways and lots of steel. A promenade circles the building, which is the size of five football pitches. Its permanent exhibition, LS Lowry – The Art & the Artist, is dedicated to the Salford artist. It features 400 of his works, which feature bleak industrial landscapes as well as crowds. thelowry.com

2: Museum Of Liverpool
Designed by the Danish architect 3XN firm and delivered by the Manchester-based architect AEW, this museum opened on the waterfront in 2011. Made from stone, it has huge windows either end – the 26ft by 92ft one by the water became a cinema screen in 2009. The interior features large spaces and a spiral staircase, which curls like a seashell. See 25 photographs of local children from the past, learn about Liverpudlians who helped with Irish independence in 1916 and enjoy Reel Stories, which celebrates the city’s role in films. liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

3: Library Of Birmingham
Francine Houben, the founder of the Netherlands-based architecture practice Mecanoo, is the brains behind this library, which is a modern structure sandwiched between two heritage buildings. The library looks like a stack of four building blocks, which feature a hole in the middle so visitors can see down to the ground from its upper storeys. The exterior is just as impressive, decorated with a circular pattern. The centre is an event space. Learn about the Bard in its Our Shakespeare exhibition. libraryofbirmingham.com

4: Sage Gateshead 
This huge music venue on the Quayside was completed in 2004, and designed by Lord Foster, the architect behind Wembley Stadium and the ‘Gherkin’ in London. The building, featuring a curved roof made from 3,000 stainless steel panels and 250 glass panels, is reminiscent of waves rolling on to a seashore. Inside, there are four bars, a café and restaurant as well as three stages hosting a range of live entertainment, from opera and dance to musicals and concerts. August highlights include rock band Low (4 Aug). sagegateshead.com

Eden Project5: Eden Project 
It’s hard to believe this botanical centre started life on a napkin in 1996. Grimshaw Architects – which also designed Waterloo Station – got to work on it two years later in a Cornish clay mine. Inspired by the site and the rules of nature, the team designed bubble-like domes because bubbles can settle on irregular surfaces such as a clay pit. The ‘Biome’ domes are made up of hexagonal windows made from a cling film-type material that transmits UV light. As well as taking a treetop walkway through the world’s largest indoor rainforest, you can stroll through meadows, learn about climate change and whizz across England’s longest and fastest zipwire. edenproject.com

6: Spinnaker Tower
Chosen by the public and designed by the local architect firm HGP Greentree Allchurch & Evans, this observation tower opened in Portsmouth in 2005. Inspired by its harbourside location, the 377ft tower resembles a sail billowing in the wind. A lift whizzes visitors 360ft to the viewing platform, Sky Deck, in 30 seconds. From the top you can enjoy views of the city, suburbs, harbour and Gunwharf Quays. If you feel brave, you can abseil down it! The tower also hosts regular comedy nights. spinnakertower.co.uk

7: Wales Millennium Centre
When Percy Thomas Partnership (now Capita Architecture) was tasked with designing this performing arts centre, the brief was to give it 
a Welsh flair. It’s safe to say the inscription on it ensures that – it reads ‘Creating truth like glass from inspiration’s furnace’ in Welsh and ‘In these stones horizons sing’ in English. The materials used are also local – wood was sourced from nearby woodland while the slate came from quarries in north Wales. Opened in 2004 in Cardiff Bay, the centre has a 1,900-seat theatre. Coming up you can see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (3-21 Aug) and Mandela Trilogy (24-27 Aug), a play about Nelson Mandela. wmc.org.uk

8: Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel connects the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal 115ft above it, scooping up a boat from one while lowering another. Tony Kettle led architects from RMJM in the design, which is the world’s only rotating boat lift. Opened in 2002, it is 23 miles from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Nearby, don’t miss The Kelpies, two huge horse sculptures. You can go in them – take a tour and learn about the mythical animals they’re inspired by. You can also hire peddleboats, Segways and inflatable balls that let you walk on water. scottishcanals.co.uk

 

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