Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

15 Simply Lovely Asian Museums

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

We’ve been taking you across the globe to show you some of the most beautiful museums in the world. Now it’s time for a quick trip to Asia to see what architectural marvels are just waiting for you to come explore them.

1. Hiroshima Castle, Japan

Photo courtesy of Jonas Merian

Japan was once home to thousands of beautiful castles, but many of them were destroyed after the Japanese feudal system was eradicated in the late 1800s—and while the wooden Hiroshima Castle survived this period of revolution, it didn’t survive the atomic bomb blast in 1945. The castle was rebuilt in 1958, though, and now serves as a museum focused on the history of Hiroshima before the bomb hit.

2. Zigong Salt History, China

Photo courtesy of Ken Marshall

The Zigong Salt History Museum is worth visiting even if you have no interest in learning about the history of salt mining. The museum was originally built in 1736 as a guildhall for salt tradesmen to meet and discuss business. The delicate stone and wood carvings used to decorate the hall were some of the finest available at the time and were intended to be a display of wealth by the merchants.

3. Bangkok National Museum, Thailand

Photos courtesy of Flickr user marianabigail

Before it was converted into a museum in 1874, this building was once the palace of the Vice King of Thailand. At first, the museum exhibited relics from King Rama IV’s reign, but since, the museum collection has drastically expanded and it now contains exhibits from Neolithic times all the way through modern Thai history.

4. National Folk Museum, South Korea

Photo courtesy of Kwong Yee Cheng

There’s no better place to learn about the history of culture in Korea than the National Folk Museum of Korea, and there’s certainly nowhere more beautiful to learn about it as well. While the museum was established in 1945, it did not move into its present location until 1993 as the structure was previously the home of the National Museum of Korea.

5. Sursock Museum, Lebanon

Photo courtesy of Bertil Videt

Originally the home of wealthy Beirut resident and art collector Nicholas Sursock, this massive mansion was converted to a museum after Sursock’s death. The structure is considered an excellent example of Lebanese architecture, which features Venetian and Ottoman influences. Since opening in 1961, the museum has held over 100 exhibitions featuring artwork from both local and international artists.

6. Albert Hall Museum, India

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user chetan

Opened to the public in 1887, this lovely museum was named after King Edward VII (Albert Edward), who visited the city when the foundation stone was laid in 1876. The building was originally intended to be a town hall, but when Maharaja Madho Singh II succeeded Ram Singh, he decided it should be a museum. The architecture is done in an Indo-Saracenic Revival style, which combines elements of Indio-Islamic, Indian, Gothic and Neo-Classical styles into one unique and eye-catching package.

7. ArtScience Museum, Singapore

Photo courtesy of William Cho

What does the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas have in common with this museum in Singapore? They’re both owned and operated by the Las Vegas Sands company. The lotus-shaped building, opened in 2011, is part of the chain’s Marina Bay Sands resort. The museum features 21 gallery spaces, most of which are filled with a rotating selection of touring exhibits from around the globe.

8. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, China

There are so many wonderful architectural details in the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum that it is actually hard to find a picture that can do it any justice, but this night image by Greg Peterson does a decent job at capturing some of the larger design aspects. The massive museum, opened in 2001, is one of the most popular in China and with good reason—it really is impressive. Designed by Creative Star Digital, the museum stretches over almost 700,000 square feet of space and has 14 interactive multimedia exhibits running at any given time.

9. Macao Science Center, Macau

Photo courtesy of Sherilyn Shaine Ocampo-Palisoc

This stunning science museum was only opened five years ago, but it is already considered a landmark of Macau thanks to the unique, asymmetrical and conical shape designed by Pei Partnership Architects. Inside the center, guests enter a large atrium before entering assorted galleries and exhibits off the main walkway, including a planetarium that also plays Omnimax films.

10. Virasat-e-Khalsa, India

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user Sanyambahga

This museum, dedicated to the history of Sikhism, only opened about two years ago, but its unique, modern design earns it a place on this list. The complex consists of two buildings on each side of a ravine that are connected by a ceremonial bridge. The buildings, designed by Moshe Safdie and Associates, have stainless steel roves and are made from concrete with intentionally exposed columns and beams.

11. Design Museum Holon, Israel

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The first Israeli museum dedicated to design, the Design Museum Holon was the first work planned and designed by architect Ron Arad. It’s even more amazing that the building was created as someone’s first design when you consider that since its construction in 2010, Conde Nast Traveler already named it as one of the new world wonders.

12. Science City, India

Photo courtesy of Biswarup Ganguly

As much an amusement park as it is a science museum, Science City teaches everything from marine biology and space travel to numerals and illusions. The outdoor gardens feature a musical fountain, a gravity coaster, a monorail cycle, a butterfly nursery and a walk-through exhibit on evolution. The complex was first opened in 1997 and it only continues to grow larger as time passes.

13. Meiji-mura, Japan

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user danirubioperez

Most museums are housed inside one building, but the Meiji-mura is different since it is an open-air museum dedicated to preserving historic buildings from across Japan. The park includes over 60 historical buildings scattered along 250 acres of rolling hillside along Lake Iruka.

Since the protected buildings date from 1867 to 1989, there is impressive diversity in the scope of the pieces that make up the museum’s collection, the most famous of which is the main entrance and lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel, which was moved in 1967 to make way for a new, larger version of the hotel.

14. Kaichi School, Japan

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user Wiiii

One of the first schools in Japan, the Kaichi School was established in 1873; it moved into this building featuring a distinct combination of western and Japanese style elements in 1876. The building was named an Important Cultural Property in 1961 and is now protected and maintained as a museum dedicated to the Japanese education system.

15. National Museum of Singapore

In 1849, the National Museum of Singapore was established as a small section of a library in the Singapore Institution. By 1887, the initial collection in Singapore’s museum was moved into the Neo-Palladian and Renaissance style building it now occupies. The building has been expanded five times in the past century in order to make room for the expanding collections, which are largely focused on the history of Singapore.

Think we missed one? Let us know about it in the comments, and feel free to share a link or picture as well!

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Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]

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Snøhetta
Norway's New Hotel in the Arctic Circle Will Produce More Energy Than It Uses
Snøhetta
Snøhetta

A new hotel coming to Norway’s section of the Arctic Circle will be more than just a place to stay for a stunning fjord view. The Svart hotel, which is being billed as the world’s first "energy-positive" hotel, is designed to “set a new standard in sustainable travel,” according to Robb Report.

Built by a tourism company called Arctic Adventure Norway and designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture firm headquartered in Oslo, it’s one of the first buildings created according to the standards of Powerhouse, a coalition of firms (including Snøhetta) devoted to putting up buildings that will produce more power over the course of 60 years than they take to build, run, and eventually demolish. It will be located on a fjord at the base of Svartisen, one of the largest glaciers on Norway’s mainland and part of Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park.

A hotel stretches out above the water of a fjord.
Snøhetta

The design of the hotel is geared toward making the facility as energy-efficient as possible. The architects mapped how the Sun shines through the mountains throughout the year to come up with the circular structure. When the Sun is high in the winter, the terraces outside the rooms provide shadows that reduce the need for air conditioning, while the windows are angled to catch the low winter Sun, keeping the building warm during cold Arctic winters. In total, it is expected to use 85 percent less energy than a traditional hotel.

The sun reflects off the roof of a hotel at the base of a glacier on a sunny day.
Snøhetta

Svart will also produce its own energy through rooftop solar panels, though it won’t have excess energy on hand year-round. Since it’s located in the Arctic Circle, the hotel will have an abundance of sunlight during the summer, at which point it will sell its excess energy to the local electricity grid. In the winter, when it’s too dark for solar energy production, the hotel will buy energy back from the grid. Over the course of the year, it will still produce more energy than it uses, and over time, it will eventually produce enough excess energy to offset the energy that was used to build the structure (including the creation of the building materials).

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains in the firm’s description of the design. “Building an energy-positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features” of the area.

Svart is set to open in 2021.

[h/t Robb Report]

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