Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower is nothing short of spectacular.

  • Shanghai Tower is a skyscraper of an extreme height, located in China’s Shanghai, Asia, in the Pudong district, situated on what was once a golf driving range.
  • Shanghai Tower reaches a height of 632 metres (2,073 feet), and in 2015 it had the status of being the second tallest tower on earth and the tallest in China and Asia.
  • The 133 floors of Shanghai Tower, five of which are underground, include a total area of 420,000 square metres (4,520,842 square feet).
  • The construction of Shanghai Tower commenced in late 2008, and was completed in late 2015, and it was built as the last and tallest of a group of three Chinese skyscrapers situated in Shanghai, which began early development in 1993.
  • Gensler, an American architect company, in cooperation with Jun Xia, a Chinese architect, were the creators of the design of Shanghai Tower.
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Shanghai Tower as of May 2015
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Shanghai Tower twists at an incline of 120 degrees, and the exterior is double-layered, which provides a buffer zone to the building, helping to insulate it, and as a result is said to save millions of dollars in energy related costs over a period of time.
  • The curvature of Shanghai Tower allowed for 25% less steel material to be used in construction than typically required, reducing the cost by millions, and it reduces the impact of wind on the tower by 24%.
  • A variety of government financing, loans and shareholder investment contributed to the financing of Shanghai Tower, which reached a total cost of approximately 2.4 billion USD.
  • Shanghai Tower can generate its own energy through wind turbines on the top levels, and it exploits the earth’s heat for use in cooling and heating components.
  • Up to 16,000 individuals can inhabit Shanghai Tower, with more than 25 floors designated specifically as hotel accommodation, while other floors include office space; and there are eight atriums, known as ‘sky lobbies’, which contain eateries, gardens and shops, that promote community behaviour in the building.
Bibliography:
Hewitt D, A Look At The Shanghai Tower, The Newest And Tallest Symbol Of China’s Rise [PHOTOS], 2015, International Business Times, http://www.ibtimes.com/look-shanghai-tower-newest-tallest-symbol-chinas-rise-photos-1944507
Shanghai Tower, 2016, The Skyscraper Center, http://skyscrapercenter.com/building/shanghai-tower/56
Shanghai Tower, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Tower

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Křivoklát Castle

You don’t ever want to get trapped in Křivoklát Castle.

  • Křivoklát Castle is a castle of Gothic style, found in the western Czech Republic in Central Europe, and it was originally a royal residence.
  • Currently Křivoklát Castle has been adapted as a museum featuring sculpture, weaponry, hunting trophies, and paintings.
  • Křivoklát Castle is said to have existed in 1110 AD, most likely on a different site, while construction on the current site began in the 1200s under orders of the kings of Bohemia.
  • Křivoklát Castle is situated in an elevated position, in a highly lush environment set among forests, and there are plenty of walking tracks available to explore the area.
  • Among other things, Křivoklát Castle features a chapel, an extensive library with 52,000 books, a large cylindrical tower, and a grand hall.
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Křivoklát Castle
Image courtesy of Elena Pleskevich/Flickr
  • At an annual tourist rate of 250,000 people, Křivoklát Castle is ranked second among the most popular castles in its homeland.
  • Křivoklát Castle has undergone many additions and repairs over the centuries, and some parts were rebuilt due to damage from fires, and attacks.
  • Křivoklát Castle was notorious for its status as an unforgiving prison from the 1500s to 1600s, and as such, tools used for torture purposes are on display in the castle.
  • In 1826, a fire raged through Křivoklát Castle, although the castle was renovated and repaired in the 1800s and 1900s; and the castle was bought by the Czech government in 1929.
  • An entrance fee is payable at Křivoklát Castle and a variety of guided tours are available, as well as exhibitions and festivals at various times in the year.
Bibliography:
Hrad Křivoklát, 2015, Hrad Křivoklát, http://www.krivoklat.cz/
Křivoklát Castle, 2011, Prague Guide, http://www.prague.fm/6826/krivoklat-castle/
Křivoklát Castle, 2015, Czech Tourism, http://www.czechtourism.com/c/krivoklat-castle/
Křivoklát Castle, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%99ivokl%C3%A1t_Castle
Prague to Krivoklat – Krivoklat Castle Tours, 2015, Private Prague Guide, https://www.private-prague-guide.com/krivoklat-prague/

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Stoclet Palace

Stoclet Palace really ventured into a new design space.

  • Stoclet Palace is a private mansion considered a masterpiece of architecture, found in Belgium’s Brussels, in Europe and it features well landscaped gardens, paintings, artworks, mosaics and sculptures, and has marble as a primary building material.
  • ‘Stoclet Palace’ is also known as ‘Stoclet House’, ‘Palais Stoclet’ in French and ‘Stocletpaleis’ in Dutch.
  • Adolphe Stoclet, a Belgian art enthusiast and banker, commissioned the construction of Stoclet Palace as his private home, and building took place from 1905 to 1911.
  • The architect of Stoclet Palace was Josef Hoffmann from Austria, who was given free reign in his design of the property, with an open budget and architectural opportunity.
  • Stoclet Palace is considered a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, a German term meaning ‘total work of art’, of the Wiener Werkstätte company, translated as ‘Vienna Workshops’, and the project included the artists Koloman Moser, Gustav Klimt, Frantz Metzner, Richard Luksch, and Michael Powolny, and others.
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Stocet Palace
Image courtesy of Stephane Mignon/Flickr
  • As an Art Nouveau building, Stoclet Palace was intentionally designed differently to the typical styles of the time, and featured simple, geometrical block design that helped revolutionise architecture of the era.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Convention designated Stoclet Palace a World Heritage Site in 2009, partly due to it being the work of ‘human creative genius’.
  • The area of the Stoclet Palace property is roughly 8600 square metres (10,285 square yards), which includes gardens, that were also carefully designed along with the mansion.
  • In 2012, Stoclet Palace was owned by the granddaughters of Adolphe Stoclet, but not occupied by any, and as a private residence it has remained closed to the public throughout its history, and as of 2015, the property was still closed to visitors.
  • Stoclet Palace was subject to a court battle, ending in 2011, when its owners could not agree on the property’s future, as most of the four heiresses (sisters) were keen to separate the contents from the building, and then sell them off, however, they were unsuccessful.
Bibliography:
Stoclet Palace, 2015, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1298
Stoclet Palace, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoclet_Palace
Wise M, An Enchanted House Becomes a Family’s Curse, 2012, The Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204616504577172941334034970

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Pura Besakih

Pura Besakih is a place for pilgrims.

  • Pura Besakih is a group of temples found in Indonesia’s Bali, in South East Asia, and they sit part way up the side of Mount Agung, at approximately 1000 metres (1093 yards) above sea level.
  • Pura Besakih is also known as ‘Besakih Temple’, and ‘Bali’s Mother Temple’, and the name ‘Besakih’ is said to be derived from the original name for the place ‘Basuki’ which is a reference to a dragon deity said to dwell on the mountain.
  • Twenty-three temple complexes make up the precinct of Pura Besakih, and this encompasses more than 80 temples, while Pura Penataran Agung is the largest and most significant of them all.
  • Pura Besakih is used by the Hindu religion throughout Bali, and is among the most sacred and important Hindu sites on the island.
  • Many of the temples of Pura Besakih appear to be like a step pyramid in shape, and stone is commonly used in the construction of the buildings.
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Pura Besakih
Image courtesy of Juan Antonia F. Segal/Flickr
  • Pura Besakih is a notable location for numerous festivals and events, numbering 70 different ones, or more, every year.
  • Pura Besakih is considered an ancient religious site, however it is not known when the first temples were built, although it is suspected that some were built in the 700s AD, and others built up until the 1340s.
  • Over 100,000 people visited Pura Besakih in 2013, however, many people do not rate their experience highly due to the unrestrained locals who are said to harass visitors for payment of various services and access to the temple complex.
  • Pura Besakih can be very busy during the day, due to the many visitors and local vendors, so it is best visited early morning or evening, and a sarong is required to be worn at all times.
  • Mount Agunga is a stratovolcano that erupted in 1963, spewing lava that narrowly dodged the temples of Pura Besakih; an event often considered a miraculous sign by the Hindu community.
Bibliography:
Besakih Temple in Bali – Pura Besakih, 2015, Bali, http://www.bali-indonesia.com/attractions/besakih-temple.htm
Pura Besakih, 2015, Bali, http://www.bali.com/temple_Pura-Besakih_83.html
Pura Besakih, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pura_Besakih

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Newgrange

Newgrange takes prehistoric architecture to a new level.

  • Newgrange, also known as ‘New Grange’, is a monumental structure that was built in ancient times, and is found in Ireland’s County Meath, in Europe.
  • Newgrange is a roundish building in shape, featuring internal chambers and hallways, with an opening on the side that is facing south-east.
  • In 1993, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention listed Newgrange as a World Heritage Site as part of the Brú na Bóinne group.
  • Stone is the primary material used to construct Newgrange, while grass grows on the roof of the structure, and it also includes soil and sand.
  • The height of Newgrange reaches 12 metres (39 feet) and has a diameter of around 80 metres (262 feet).
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Newgrange
Image courtesy of Young Shanahan/Flickr
  • Newgrange was built by a Neolithic community around 3200 to 3100 BC, and it is believed to be older than the Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge, that are also renowned for their age and monumental significance.
  • Newgrange is said to be a passage tomb, that has housed the remains of multiple people, while the structure may have also been used for religious purposes.
  • Although abandoned some 1000 years after it was built, Newgrange managed to leave a significant footprint in the myths of Ireland, especially in the time of the Middle Ages.
  • It is considered that Newgrange was first uncovered and entered by people from the modern age in 1699, by workers employed by the owner of the land, Charles Campbell; and this led to the beginning of historical interest, and the site was first investigated by Edward Lhwyd, a Welsh antiquarian.
  • Newgrange is considered an art of architecture, featuring many creative corridors, sculptures and carved stones, as well as a window, known as a ‘roof box’, that lights the inner structure during the Winter Solstice.
Bibliography:
Newgrange, 2010, World Heritage Ireland, http://www.worldheritageireland.ie/bru-na-boinne/built-heritage/newgrange/

Newgrange
, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange
Newgrange – Ireland’s Most Famous Monument, 2015, Mythical Ireland, http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/newgrange/

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Bank of England

The Bank of England is the financial pride of England.

  • The Bank of England is the United Kingdom’s central bank, located on Threadneedle Street, in England’s London, in Europe.
  • The ‘Bank of England’ is officially known as the ‘Governor and Company of the Bank of England’, and it is also informally known as ‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’.
  • The Bank of England, as a central bank, is the second oldest on earth, and its framework has been used as guide for nearly all central banks in existence today.
  • In 1694, the Bank of England was founded, using a proposed scheme designed by Scotsman William Paterson, with the support of the first Earl of Halifax, Charles Montagu, and merchant Michael Godfrey.
  • Initially, subscribers provided financial assistance to fund the Bank of England, while the bank provided a loan of 1.2 million pounds (1.8 million US dollars) to the English government, after an economical collapse due to being defeated at the hands of France.
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Bank of England
Image courtesy of image_less_ordinary/Flickr
  • The Bank of England originated in Walbrook in London, on a site where the Mithras temple of the Roman ‘God of Contracts’ once stood, and the bank was later relocated to its site on Threadneedle Street in 1734.
  • Money notes began to be distributed by the Bank of England from 1694, originally made by hand, until 1725 when notes started to become printed mechanically.
  • A vault can be found underneath the Bank of England, that houses a store of gold that was worth 156 billion pounds (nearly 240 billion US dollars) in 2012.
  • The currency used by the Bank of England is pound sterling, and the bank had a total reserve of 403 billion pounds (620 billion US dollars) in 2013.
  • The Bank of England premises on Threadneedle Street has been built and rebuilt a number of times over the centuries, while the current bank building was designed by Englishmen Herbert Baker, and was constructed from 1925 to 1939.
Bibliography:
Bank of England, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_England
Buildings and Architects, n.d, Bank of England, http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/about/Pages/history/buildings.aspx
History, n.d, Bank of England, http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/about/Pages/history/default.aspx#3

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